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Schumer Championed Billions In Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Eliminate Lead Pipes And Just Delivered $129 Million For New York Last Week, With Much More Still On The Way, For Communities To Begin Applying For

Erie County Alone Has A Backlog Of Over 12,000 Lead Pipes And Senator Is Pushing To Help Deliver The Millions Needed With New Grants To Replace Potentially Hazardous Lead Service Lines As They Ramp Up To Meet New EPA Regulations  

Schumer: Protecting Our Children From Dangers of Lead Poisoning Must Be Our #1 Priority

Standing at an active Erie County lead pipe replacement work site in Lackawanna, on the heels of delivering hundreds of millions in funding to New York State for lead pipe replacement last week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to accelerate removal of hazardous lead pipes to provide safer, cleaner drinking water for Erie County and Western NY. Schumer said now is the time for communities to tap the historic investments he secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, and that he is pushing future federal funding opportunities, like an up to $5 million grant, so Erie County can accelerate their efforts to remove thousands of service lines and ensure the region’s families have the safe, reliable drinking water they deserve.  

“No amount of lead is safe for children and families in Western NY. Buffalo and Erie County have some of the oldest water systems in the country, along with tens of thousands of lead pipes still in use, and we need to replace these sooner rather than later. Thanks to my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I just delivered hundreds of millions to help New York’s lead pipe replacement effort across the entire state and I’m here today to make sure all know so they can start to apply and tap into this federal funding,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer added, “For decades, I have been one of the loudest voices in the room on the importance of eliminating lead pipes from our communities. I am fighting at all levels to help Western NY get the federal support they need to replace lead pipes, and am pushing future funding opportunities, including the up to $5 million in federal funding which was just applied for, to accelerate removal of lead service lines to homes across underserved areas of the county. I will not stop fighting until there are no more lead pipes in Erie County and New York State.”

Schumer said that lead is known to cause severe health problems for children and adults alike, including damage to the brain and nervous systems, cardiovascular diseases, and adverse effects on the reproductive system and kidneys. Schumer said Erie County has done a great job starting to replace lead pipes to increase the health and safety of the region’s children and families, but they still have a backlog of an estimated 12,000 lead and galvanized requiring replacement service lines which could cost up to $150 million to fully replace. That’s why Schumer is pushing for these critical dollars to increase the health and quality of life of thousands of Erie County residents, and get one step closer to eliminating all lead pipes across the region

 “Lead is an insidious poison that steals health and prosperity from the youngest citizens in our community, dooming them to a future that holds less promise and fewer opportunities. I thank Senator Schumer for this investment in the health of our children and families, bringing cleaner drinking water and better health outcomes for all,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“I want to commend and thank Senator Schumer for championing ECWA’s $5 million federal funding request to help offset the cost of needed infrastructure to meet the EPA’s new requirements,” said ECWA Chairman Jerry Schad. “More importantly, the funds the Senator is advocating for on our behalf would directly benefit the health and safety of ECWA’s impacted customers by mitigating their exposure to lead.”

“Senator Schumer’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signaled a renewed commitment at the Federal level to help communities replace lead service lines. Buffalo’s lead challenge is daunting – needing to replace nearly 40 thousand lead service lines at an expected cost of $450 million.  We know that Senator Schumer will continue to fight to bring funds to Buffalo for infrastructure investments,” said Oluwole (OJ) McFoy, P.E., Chair, Buffalo Water

“We thank Senator Schumer for his continued commitment of resources focused on improving economic opportunities and quality of life for Lackawanna and surrounding Erie County communities,” said City of Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo. “From funding to advance redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site, to upgrading the areas antiquated water delivery systems and more, Senator Schumer’s advocacy is vital to our collective efforts to build economically vibrant and healthy communities for all.”

The senator has been leading the charge to get lead out of Erie County and Upstate NY communities. Schumer championed the provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for $15 billion dedicated solely to replace lead pipes, on top of billions more in the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Funds. Just last week, Schumer announced New York would be receiving over $129 million for lead pipe replacement, bringing the total funding for NY to over $350 Million for lead pipes, and he is pushing for places like Buffalo and Erie County to apply for the grants and forgivable loans specifically targeted at disadvantaged communities to increase access to safe and clean water. Schumer said that more funding is needed, though, so that Erie County can remove every single lead pipe in the region, which is why he’s launching his push to secure additional federal funds.  

In addition, Schumer explained he is fighting to deliver the up to $5 million in congressionally directed spending for Erie County to replace 500 lead-free service lines to homes across the region. This federal funding will go towards replacing lead pipes in historically underserved communities, including both municipal water service lines and pipes on homeowners’ property. Schumer said these dollars will help make drinking water cleaner and safer for some of Erie County’s most vulnerable populations.

According to a report by the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning, an estimated 1 in 5 New Yorkers may be drinking from lead service lines (LSLs). New York State leads the nation in cases of children with elevated blood levels. Twelve percent of the children born in the state in 2019 – 28,820 children – have been diagnosed with blood lead levels greater than 2 micrograms per deciliter (?g/dL). Childhood lead poisoning rates for communities across the New York State are five to six times higher than those in Flint, MI at the peak of its water crisis. Lead poisoning also increases disadvantaged communities at higher rates. In Buffalo, for example, children from neighborhoods of color are 12 times as likely as children from predominantly white neighborhoods to have elevated blood lead levels.

Schumer just delivered $129 million for lead service line replacement through New York’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) as a part of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act he championed. Schumer’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act makes the single-largest investment ever in U.S. water infrastructure. In total, the bill includes over $50 billion for the EPA’s highly successful water infrastructure programs, including $15 billion specifically for Lead Service Line Replacements. Schumer also fought to include billions for Drinking Water SRF Lead Service Line Replacements (LSLR). SRFs provide below-market rate loans and grants to fund water infrastructure improvements in municipalities across the state. Importantly, Schumer fought for a lower state cost share for the early years of this funding and for 49% of the money to be administered as grants and completely forgivable loans, ensuring New Yorkers can get the most out of this funding. Earlier this year, New York received $420 million from the EPA for New York’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF) to help modernize and clean the state’s water systems. As of this month, total funding for NYS’s BIL water infrastructure investments rise to well over $1.2 billion, with $358,437,000 of that funding specifically for LSLR.

Schumer has long been a driving force in securing federal funding to reduce lead exposure in New York. In 2016, after reports of elevated lead levels in Ithaca and schools across the state were published, Schumer took action to help jumpstart lead testing programs for schools and day care centers and in 2018, ensured that those programs were fully funded.