FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2023
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 292-2994
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
(23/P007) TRENTON – Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette will join Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan at a White House Lead Action Summit today to announce New Jersey’s participation in a federal program helping local governments identify and replace lead service lines that impact the safety of drinking water in homes and businesses across the country.
The Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerator community initiative, made possible by dedicated funding provided through the landmark the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), is designed to help underserved communities address the complex problem of identifying and replacing lead-containing service lines. Lead service lines connect individual properties with water system service lines and were installed decades ago, making identification difficult and time-consuming.
The initial New Jersey communities participating in the program are East Newark and Harrison. The DEP will be working to add more communities. Other states participating in the program are Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The Accelerator initiative will provide targeted technical assistance services to underserved communities to make progress on replacing lead pipes that pose risks to the health of children and families. Commissioner LaTourette will participate in a panel discussion during the summit to discuss New Jersey’s strategies for reducing and eliminating lead threats in drinking water, particularly lead service lines.
“In partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration, New Jersey is accelerating its efforts to better protect every resident from the risk of lead exposure by helping communities to identify lead pipes and access funding for their replacement," Commissioner LaTourette said. “Thanks to the historic amount of investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, New Jersey will be home to a Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerator program that will empower communities large and small with the knowledge and resources necessary to get the lead out of our water and away from our kids. The Murphy Administration is proud to lead this new effort alongside several of our sister states and the incredible people of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Office of Water.”
For livestreamed coverage of the Accelerator announcement and summit, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live/ The summit begins at noon.
Inventorying efforts coordinated by the DEP indicate that there are more than 186,000 service lines in the state that contain lead, in addition to more than a million more that are made of unknown materials, many of which could contain lead.
“East Newark is pleased to be among the first communities in the nation to participate in this groundbreaking federal program,” East Newark Mayor Dina M. Grilo said. “The staff at the DEP have been extremely helpful in guiding us toward this milestone. Participation in this program is an important step in protecting the health of our families and children from the harmful effects of lead.”
“On behalf of the Council of the Town of Harrison, we are very excited to be part of the launch of the U.S. EPA’s LSLR Accelerator Pilot,” Harrison Mayor James A. Fife said. “The Town of Harrison and the DEP have worked cooperatively for many years regarding the Town’s Waterfront Redevelopment Area, with great success. We are proud to be selected to host this important event and look forward to many more years of teamwork for the betterment of the residents of Harrison and the State of New Jersey.”
“Through our experience in implementing statewide lead service line replacement requirements, we are aware of the challenges that communities face to make this goal of complete lead service line replacement a reality,” said Patricia Gardner, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources Management. “We are excited for the opportunity to partner with EPA, to learn from our other state partners and to bring additional assistance to NJ communities to meet our common goals of addressing lead in drinking water, reducing the risk of lead exposure for generations to come.”
“We are excited to partner with EPA as New Jersey continues to take the next big step in public health protection with the removal of all lead service lines in New Jersey,” added Patricia Ingelido, DEP’s Director of Water Supply & Geoscience. “Department staff work each day to ensure that public health is protected by overseeing water systems' sampling and operations. Having this support from EPA will help water systems, especially in underserved communities in New Jersey, meet that goal of complete lead service line replacement, reducing the risk of lead exposure for generations to come.”
“Lead exposure undermines public health and is a particularly acute issue in communities burdened by systemic inequities,” said Deandrah Cameron, Policy Manager for New Jersey Future. “New Jersey Future believes everyone deserves to live in a thriving community and healthy neighborhood. We promote policies for cost-effective, sustainable water systems in New Jersey, and support policies that ensure access to safe, clean drinking water through the replacement of lead service lines in the state. New Jersey Future applauds the leadership of the Biden Administration to elevate and prioritize lead service line replacement in overburdened communities. Federal funding, along with strong state and local partnerships bring us vital steps closer to a lead-free New Jersey.”
In recognition of the serious potential health impacts of lead, especially on children, Governor Murphy signed a law in July 2021 that requires drinking water systems to inventory service lines, notify residents of the potential presence of lead in their service lines, and plan for the replacement of all lead service lines within 10 years, an effort that is well underway in towns across New Jersey. For more information on this effort and steps to reduce the impacts of lead in the home, visit https://www.nj.gov/dep/lead/water.html
Last February, less than three years after the start of its lead service line replacement program, Newark announced completion of the work. The project involved the removal and replacement of more than 23,000 lead service lines, all at no cost to residents. The city also installed a new corrosion control system to further reduce lead exposure from lead components that may still exist in residential plumbing.
And in November, the DEP joined the Passaic Valley Water Commission to break ground on the replacement of 6,500 lead service lines in Paterson, Clifton, Passaic, Prospect Park, North Arlington and Lodi, a project that will be completed at no cost to residents.
Lead in drinking water pipes and faucets threatens the health of American families and children across the country. An estimated 6 to 10 million lead service lines (LSLs) serve water to properties in communities across the U.S. The federal Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, published in December 2021, outlines President Biden’s vision for lead-free water systems by dedicating funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance replacement of lead service lines.
The primary source of lead in drinking water, when present, is pipes. Lead can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels and can accumulate in the body over time. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $15 billion through EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) in the form of grants and loans to water systems for Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR). Forty-nine percent of this funding must be provided to disadvantaged communities (as defined by the state) as grants or principal forgiveness loans—which can provide a pathway for underserved communities that might not otherwise have access to funding for water infrastructure upgrades.
Communities may have limited technical, operational, and financial resources for LSL identification and replacement. Barriers associated with LSLR—understanding lead in drinking water, reluctance or legal constraints to working on private property, challenges accessing contractors to conduct service line identification and construction—slow down the process. Technical assistance (TA) helps communities address these barriers by providing the necessary tools for a successful LSLR program.
The LSLR Accelerators initiative represents another step forward by the Biden-Harris administration to achieve 100 percent lead free water systems. In November 2021 President Biden signed the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invested an unprecedented $50 billion in the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure, including $15 billion dedicated to lead service line replacement and $11.7 billion of general Drinking Water SRF funding that can also be used for lead service line replacement.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is committed to using every tool available— statutory authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act, technical assistance, funding for lead service line replacement, and more—to protect all Americans from lead in drinking water. Each of the four state LSLR Accelerator programs will work with multiple communities in their state to accelerate lead service line projects by supporting the development of:
Demonstrating the state’s commitment to addressing lead, the DEP has signed the White House’s Guiding Principles to Reduce Lead and Protect Families and Communities. These principles include:
For more information on the Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators initiative and other EPA water technical assistance efforts for communities and water utilities, please visit https://www.epa.gov/water-infrastructure/water-technical-assistance