Thousands call on EPA to get the lead out of drinking water

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Groups file comments with agency urging a 10-year deadline to remove lead pipes, protect school drinking water

Environment America Research and Policy Center

BOSTON — Nearly 15,000 people are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to not only set a 10-year deadline for removing lead pipes but also take decisive action to ensure safe drinking water at schools and child care centers. Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund submitted comments Wednesday from these individuals on the EPA’s Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities

“To halt widespread contamination of our drinking water, President Biden set a bold goal of replacing all lead pipes in 10 years,” noted John Rumpler, seniordirector of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s clean water program. “One decade is enough time to de-lead; we’re now calling on the EPA to make President Biden’s goal the law of the land.”

The bipartisan infrastructure law provides $15 billion to replace lead service lines, and states can also apply American Rescue Plan funds to the task as well. But the groups are concerned that some water utilities will not prioritize pipe removal year after year without an enforceable mandate. The EPA should follow New Jersey, which set a 10-year deadline for replacing lead service lines last July.

The comments also urge the EPA to get the lead out of schools’ drinking water. As with lead pipes, the White House has set high goals for safe drinking water at schools, and Congress has provided funding. Now the EPA needs to follow through with actual protections – including requirements for filters and a 1-part-per-billion limit on lead in schools’ water, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics

“We’ve known for decades that lead is highly toxic for kids – harming their growth, development and learning,” said Matt Casale, Environment Campaigns director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Yet we allowed this potent neurotoxicant to be used in everything from paint to gasoline and have slow-played undoing that damage for decades. We hope the EPA will adopt the protections needed to eliminate this health hazard, so our kids have safe drinking water wherever they go to learn and play each day.”