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Lead pipes need to be replaced, but the cost is too much for local governments

Local government officials and state lawmakers have called for $50 million to be allocated to a Department of Health program that replaces lead service lines in New York. The proposed funding would be a part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $227 billion state budget that includes $500 million in new funding from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act. However, the budget proposal did not outline where the money would be directed.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, “It’s time for our state to finally rid itself of the dangers of lead in our drinking water infrastructure.” Despite knowing about the risks associated with lead exposure for decades, more than 360,000 lead service lines still deliver water to New Yorkers. The lawmaker added that replacing these lines can be a challenging process for many due to the upfront costs involved, which is why funding for the Lead Service Line Replacement Program is critical.

The average cost of replacing a residential lead water service line can range from $5,000 to $12,000. Although upstate communities like Schenectady and Amsterdam have been able to use the program, the annual allocation can be quickly depleted.

The program replaced 2,300 lead pipes at over two dozen communities in the state as of last summer. Hochul has backed a plan earlier this year that would expedite the removal of lead from residential buildings by offsetting the costs of inspections and helping pay for renovations when hazardous conditions are found.

Lawmakers are urging the budget to allocate a line-item specifically for the lead line removal program. They hope that the funding will help keep drinking water safe for communities statewide for generations to come.