Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at a lead pipe removal site in Rochester to discuss funding for lead pipe replacement in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Lead is commonly found in older homes and buildings and in areas with aging water supplies, and exposure causes a variety of serious health and developmental issues, particularly in pregnant women and young children. Rochester has more than 20,000 lead pipes, putting thousands of children and families at risk of heavy metal poisoning. The IIJA includes $2.6 billion in federal funding to help improve water infrastructure and replace the roughly 360,000 lead service pipes across New York State. Senator Gillibrand was joined by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, Rochester Environmental Services Commissioner Richard Perrin, and Simeon Banister, Executive Vice President of the Rochester Area Community Foundation.
“New Yorkers have the right to expect clean and safe water when they turn on their faucets,” said Senator Gillibrand. “But in Rochester, lead contamination is still widespread, putting residents at risk of kidney damage, brain damage, miscarriage, and a number of other devastating health problems. We have to do more to keep our communities safe. That’s why I’m proud to be delivering $2.6 billion in federal funding to improve water infrastructure in our state and get hazardous lead pipes out of New York’s homes, schools, and workplaces. This is a historic investment in our aging infrastructure and in the health and well-being of our most vulnerable. I’ll keep fighting to bring federal dollars home to New York and revitalize our neighborhoods.”
“Using the funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address aging lead pipes in our community, a decades long challenge that has contributed to significant disparities in Rochester, was exactly the kind of outcome we hoped for when we launched the North Star Coalition with Senator Gillibrand, Mayor Evans and other area leaders,” said Simeon Banister, Executive Vice President, and incoming President and CEO at Rochester Area Community Foundation. “Congratulations to Senator Gillibrand on this strategic and equitable investment that will demonstrably improve lives in Rochester, particularly for our children.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as many as 10 million lead pipes still carry water to homes and businesses across the country, and New York State has the fourth highest number of lead service lines in the nation. Senator Gillibrand has long worked to combat these and other lead hazards throughout the state. She leads the annual push to include funding for the EPA’s lead-based paint abatement, inspection, and enforcement programs in the Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill. Last year, she cosponsored the bipartisan Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act of 2021 to remove miles of lead pipes and help families cover the cost of removing lead hazards from their homes. Senator Gillibrand also secured $360 million in funding for lead hazard control in the FY 2021 government spending package.