Today, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Pittsburgh to highlight the city’s lead line replacement program. Her visit should help shine a light on policies that have worked – and on the level of funding that is necessary to replace lead lines across the country.
Food & Water Watch Water for All Program Director Mary Grant issued the following statement:
“Cities like Pittsburgh and Newark have had real success in replacing lead lines, thanks to the work of community activists and the availability of public funds to do the work. We applaud the Our Water Campaign led by Pittsburgh United for its work to advocate for lead line replacement, and for pushing back on the water privatization that aggravated the lead crisis itself. Pittsburgh still has much work to do to eliminate all lead service lines, and federal support will be crucial to achieving lead-free water without exacerbating the city’s water affordability problems.
“Unfortunately, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law did not provide the level of funding that is necessary to end the nation’s lead-in-water crisis. The infrastructure law that was championed by the Biden administration devotes $15 billion to lead pipe replacement, which is only a quarter of what the water industry estimates is necessary to replace all lead service lines. And about half of that funding comes in the form of loans, instead of grants, which disinvested-in cities urgently need.
“If the administration wants to fully confront this crisis, President Biden should make the WATER Act a part of his infrastructure agenda. This bill is the only permanent fix for our water crises, allocating $35 billion per year to urgently address the problems facing communities all across the country. The WATER Act prioritizes disadvantaged communities and would be fully paid for by rolling back some of the previous administration’s corporate tax breaks. And the WATER Act would make sure that the funds would not flow to large private water companies that take control of public water systems. It is the most comprehensive solution to our national water crisis, already backed by over 100 members of Congress. It’s time to act.”