On July 1, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act. As part of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, the House passed an amendment to authorize $4.5 billion annually for fiscal years 2021 through 2025 to fund the replacement of lead drinking water pipes. The amendment was offered by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), David Cicilline (R.I.) and Gwen Moore (Wis.).
The amendment directs the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make grants available to eligible entities for comprehensive lead reduction projects that pay to fully replace all lead service lines served by the eligible entity. The grants are irrespective of the ownership of the service line and do not require a contribution to the cost of replacement of any portion of the service line by any individual homeowner. The administrator shall give priority to eligible entities serving disadvantaged communities, environmental justice communities with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or Tribal and indigenous communities that experience, or are at risk of experiencing, higher or adverse human health or environmental effects. The language makes it clear that it is solely the federal government’s responsibility as it bears 100 percent of the cost-share.
It is expected that the bill is unlikely to be considered by the U.S. Senate.
Many counties have the responsibility to provide water services and have the authority to own and operate drinking water systems. Accessibility to a reliable supply of clean water is vital to our nation, and counties stand ready to work with our federal partners to ensure every American has access to clean drinking water.
Commissioner Cindy Bobbitt, Grant County, Okla. testified during a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the EPA’s proposed lead and copper rule. To read her written testimony, click here.