Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at a lead pipe removal site in Syracuse 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. Syracuse has more than 14,000 lead service pipes delivering water to homes, 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 Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Director of the Environmental Justice Project at the New York Civil Liberties Union Lanessa Owens-Chaplin, State Senator John Mannion, State Senator Rachel May, and Onondaga County Legislators Christopher J. Ryan and Peggy Chase.
“New Yorkers have the right to expect clean and safe water when they turn on their faucets,” said Senator Gillibrand. “But in Syracuse, 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.”
“Funding for lead service line replacement through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a game changer for the City of Syracuse in our ongoing effort to reduce lead exposure. It is critical that we mitigate the risks of lead poisoning through projects like lead pipe removal to protect our families, especially those most vulnerable – our children,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “I am grateful to President Biden, Senator Gillibrand and their colleagues in Washington for the historic investments Syracuse continues to see through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.”
“As we dismantle old and dilapidated infrastructure projects we must protect our communities from the multigenerational debilitating impacts of lead poisoning and exposure, especially in a city where Black children already have some of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the nation. The community is demanding intentional efforts to prevent further damage to their homes, health, and dignity, including lead abatement and remediation. Thanks Senator Gillibrand for bringing this issue to the forefront,” said Lanessa Owens-Chaplin, Director of the Environmental Justice Project at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“It’s imperative that we keep our drinking water safe and reliable and thanks to Senator Gillibrand the City of Syracuse will get historic financial support to remove hazardous lead pipes. The multitude of infrastructure investments flowing into Central New York – including the reconstruction of I81 – will be transformative in the years ahead,” said Senator John W. Mannion.
“Thank you to Senator Gillibrand for her important work in replacing lead pipes in our city and protecting our water supply. The fight against lead poisoning in Syracuse has involved a tremendous coalition of families, elected officials at all levels of government, advocacy groups, and experts. The resources provided by the Federal infrastructure bill will help make significant progress toward our goal of eradicating lead poisoning, and I look forward to continuing the work with Senator Gillibrand and others on this issue,” said State Senator Rachel May.
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.