Texas to get $221 million this year to remove lead pipes

Media Contacts

New rule will also require testing in elementary schools and daycares in Texas

AUSTIN — The White House announced today that Texas will receive $221 million this year to remove lead service lines as part of a new plan to prevent the lead contamination of drinking water (and reduce other exposures to lead). The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan features unprecedented federal funding and new requirements on elementary schools and daycares to test for lead in drinking water. Voluntary testing has previously found lead in the drinking water of 71% of Texas schools which tested. Environment Texas and TexPIRG urged the state of Texas to accept the funds (this week Gov. Abbott urged state agencies to reject funds in certain conditions) and urged schools and daycares to act expeditiously to protect kids from lead in drinking water. 

“With an estimated 270,000 lead service lines still in operation in Texas, we badly need this money to protect our drinking water from dangerous lead,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas. “We urge the Texas Water Development Board to accept the funds and get to work right away eliminating this hazard.

“This plan marks an ambitious federal effort to end lead contamination of our drinking water. Already, the administration has secured major funding to replace lead service lines, including $15 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Now, the EPA is committing to ensure the full replacement of these toxic pipes – a long-overdue and an indispensable step toward securing safe water. We eagerly await the details of the agency’s plan. For example,the EPA should set a deadline of 10 years or less to replace lead service lines, as Fort Worth and Austin have already done. Similarly, to stop the widespread contamination of schools’ drinking water, the administration should focus its resources and policies on prevention rather than testing.”

“Ensuring safe drinking water will also require action at all levels of government. Congress must also approve the nearly $10 billion of additional funds to get the lead out in the Build Back Better package.” 

“We’ve known for decades that lead is highly toxic for kids – harming their growth, development, and learning,” said Claire Ganschow, Get The Lead Out Campaign Associate for TexPIRG. “Texas has no drinking water standards in place for the vast majority of schools and daycares, so we welcome the federal rules. State officials and school districts should swiftly allocate existing federal recovery funds to prevent lead contamination, as outlined in TexPIRG Education Fund’s recent Get the Lead Out toolkit. Many of the state’s largest school districts, including Houston ISD (HISD) have already tested, so now we need them to finish the job and get the lead out of all schools.”