EPA announces $28.7 million for California lead pipe replacement to advance safe drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $28,650,000 from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help California identify and replace lead service lines, preventing exposure to lead in drinking water.

Lead can cause a range of severe health impacts, including irreversible harm to brain development in children. President Biden has committed to replacing every lead pipe in the country to protect children and families. The investment announced today, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and available through EPA’s capitalization of the state-run Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, takes another major step to advance public health and environmental justice and bolsters the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and Get the Lead Out Initiative.

Working collaboratively, EPA and California are advancing the President’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that 40 percent of overall benefits from certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities, including those overburdened by lead exposure and pollution. Lead exposure disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities. To date, the total funding announced through this program is expected to replace up to 1.7 million lead pipes nationwide, securing clean drinking water for countless families.

“Every single person living in California deserves access to clean, safe drinking water and a guarantee that they and their loved ones will be protected from lead contamination,” said Martha Guzman, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is investing an unprecedented amount of funding to replace these harmful lead service lines, with communities at the greatest risk of lead poisoning prioritized.”

“Lead pipe contamination is a nationwide public health catastrophe — and it’s hurting communities of color the most,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. “We cannot turn a blind eye as children are poisoned in their own homes and schools, and families are forced to depend on bottled water. This investment in the safety of our water includes millions of dollars I fought to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I’ll keep working alongside the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that every American has access to lead-free drinking water.”

“I applaud President Biden’s commitment to replacing lead pipes all across California with a safer and more sustainable alternative so that no family goes without clean drinking water,” said U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler. “This initiative will ensure that families are no longer at risk of lead exposure from the tap they drink.”

 “California is committed to ensuring every community has access to safe and clean drinking water,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Yana Garcia. “Federal funding has helped us to reduce exposure to contaminants like lead and improve our drinking water infrastructure for a more resilient, sustainable California.”

“All people deserve clean drinking water. Unfortunately, millions of California communities — especially communities of color and low-income families — are subjected to lead exposure and pollution on a daily basis,” noted U.S. Representative Barbare Lee). “This historic investment by the Biden Administration will alleviate those disparities, reduce toxic pollution, and advance health equity here in California and nationwide. I thank all responsible for getting this initiative across the finish line and look forward to continuing to partner with the administration on environmental justice issues.”

“Funding made possible through legislation led by Congressional Democrats and President Biden is benefitting millions of Americans across the country by protecting their right to clean and safe drinking water,” said U.S. Representative Mark DeSaulnier. “I am proud to have fought for this funding that will help safeguard families and improve California’s public health.”

“Every family should have access to safe, clean water. It’s heartbreaking that countless children have been exposed to high amounts of lead because of outdated lead pipes,” said U.S. Representative Josh Harder. “This investment in our water infrastructure is a crucial step towards making sure no child is harmed by lead contamination.”

“This is an important step towards the elimination of lead contamination in California’s water,” said U.S. Representative Ro Khanna. “I am especially pleased 40 percent of overall benefits from this investment will flow to disadvantaged communities underinvested and overburdened by lead exposure and pollution. Every American has a right to clean, lead-free water.”

“Access to safe drinking water is a human right. I applaud EPA’s announcement today of over $28 million to help California identify and replace lead service lines, made possible through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove. “Advancing environmental justice must be central to all action we take to remedy environmental and public health hazards. I am especially glad that this funding will further President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a whole-of-government approach to ensure federal investments flow equitably into historically underserved and underinvested communities.”

“Ensuring our communities have safe, clean drinking water is absolutely vital to public health. The investments in President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will have widespread benefits for generations to come. I applaud the EPA for continuing to make life-changing improvements through this federal program by removing harmful lead pipes and protecting families and children in California,” said U.S. Representative Kevin Mullin.

“Today’s $28 million investment marks a milestone in eliminating dangerous lead pipes across California. I know these funds will have an immense positive impact on the health of California’s kids and adults alike, and I’m proud to have supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which made this funding possible,” said U.S. Representative Mike Thompson.

“Communities, economies, and ecosystems across the U.S. rely on clean water, but our infrastructure has been woefully neglected for decades, leading to a dilapidated, contamination-riddled system. Everyone deserves access to clean water, which is why Democrats pushed for historic funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in a clean water future,” said U.S. Representative Jared Huffman. “I’m happy we could secure this funding for California to replace lead pipes, along with a commitment to our disadvantaged communities that unjustly face the most exposure to this toxic infrastructure.”

“We’ve known for far too long that no amount of lead is safe for children,” said U.S. Representative Scott Peters. “Replacing the lead pipes that are prevalent in older, underserved communities means parents don’t have to worry that their kids are being exposed to contaminated water. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us, and I appreciate the EPA’s leadership on this vital project.”

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $15 billion to identify and replace lead service lines. The law mandates that 49 percent of funds provided through the DWSRF General Supplemental Funding and DWSRF Lead Service Line Replacement Funding must be provided as grants and forgivable loans to disadvantaged communities, a crucial investment for communities that have been underinvested in for too long. EPA projects a national total of 9 million lead service lines across the country, based on data collected from the updated seventh Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. The funding announced will be explicitly provided for lead service line identification and replacement. It will help every state and territory fund projects to remove lead pipes and reduce exposure to lead from drinking water.

The Lead Service Line-specific formula used to allot these funds allows states to receive financial assistance commensurate with their need as soon as possible, furthering public health protection nationwide. The formula and allotments are based on need — meaning that states with more projected lead service lines receive proportionally more funding.

Alongside the funding announced today, EPA is also releasing a new memorandum that clarifies how states can use this and other funding to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water most effectively. Additionally, EPA has developed new outreach documents to help water systems educate their customers on drinking water issues, health impacts of lead exposure, service line ownership, and how customers can support identifying potential lead service lines in their homes.

To view stories about how the unpreceded investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are transforming communities across the country, visit EPA’s Investing in America’s Water Infrastructure Story Map. To read about some projects underway, see EPA’s recently released Quarterly Report on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funded Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF projects and explore the State Revolving Funds Public Portal.

Today’s allotments are based on EPA’s updated Seventh Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, which includes an assessment of newly submitted information. This is the best available data collected and assessed on service line materials in the United States. Later this summer, EPA will release an addendum to the seventh DWINSA Report to Congress, including the updated lead service line projections. EPA anticipates initiating data collection, consisting of information on lead service lines, for the eighth DWINSA in 2025.

For more information, including state-by-state allotment of 2024 funding and a breakdown of EPA’s lead Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, visit EPA’s Drinking Water website.

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region here, and visit it on InstagramFacebook, and X.