Policy Update

Report Finds that Existing Laws would Support Lead-Based Pipe Replacement Using Rate Payments

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National

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Mara Herman
Environmental Health Manager

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While funding is viewed as one of the largest barriers to replacing lead service lines on private property, a new report by the Environmental Defense Fund and Harvard reveals that laws in the states with the most lead service lines already support the use of customer rates to fund their replacement. You can read the report here, as well as a blog about the report here. Lead service lines are lead-based pipes connecting a building’s plumbing to the public water system. These pipes tend to be on both public and private property, so this often leads to partial replacement of the lead service line and confusion over whether utilities are legally able to replace lines on private property using public funds. EDF estimates that the US currently has six million lead service lines, leaving millions of people vulnerable to lead exposure, which has long been known to negatively impact the brain and nervous system development – especially within children. The report emphasizes both the importance of replacing all of these lead-based pipes and that funding mechanisms already exist to do so. Its findings ultimately recommend that states should pass legislation that explicitly allows and calls for the use of rates to fund replacement on private property to avoid any confusion going forward.