Biden’s Lead Water Proposal is Progress –  But Still Not Enough

To fully remove lead pipes and ensure safe water for all, Congress must pass WATER Act

Published Nov 30, 2023


Clean Water

To fully remove lead pipes and ensure safe water for all, Congress must pass WATER Act

To fully remove lead pipes and ensure safe water for all, Congress must pass WATER Act

Washington, DC  – Today, the EPA proposed a major update to federal water quality regulations for lead in drinking water. While this proposal lays out an ambitious vision for clean water, it requires a deeper commitment to provide the funding necessary to make it a reality.

The proposal would require full lead service line replacement for most systems over a decade expected to begin in January 2028 (three years after the rule is finalized), ban most partial lead service line replacements, and lower the action level from 15 ppb to 10 ppb, among other major improvements. Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can harm every major system of the human body, and lead service lines are the single biggest source of lead contamination in drinking water.

In response to this proposal, Food & Water Watch Public Water for All Director Mary Grant issued the following statement: 

“The Biden administration has proposed long-overdue meaningful action toward the goal of eliminating lead from drinking water, but to ensure that every community has safe, lead-free water, much more must be done – much faster –  at no cost to impacted households. The clock should start now. No amount of lead is safe, and the law must reflect that. 

“The federal government has already waited far too long to require the elimination of these toxic lead water pipes, which poisoned the water in communities across the country from Flint to Jackson to Newark to Washington, D.C., and more. We applaud the water activists, advocates and agitators who emerged from those water contamination fights to build the power that led to today’s action. 

“It is long past time to remove all lead service lines, and no community and no household should be left behind, regardless of ability to pay. Congress must step up to provide funding to replace the entire service line at no cost to impacted households, prioritizing low-income and environmental justice communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a $15 billion downpayment on this overhaul, but the total cost could exceed $60 billion, according to industry estimates. Congress must pass the WATER Act to provide a permanent, dedicated source of federal funding at the level that EPA says is necessary to comply with federal water quality regulations. Everyone deserves safe, lead-free drinking water.”

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]