EDF joins White House Partnership to Accelerate Lead Water Pipe Replacements

Biden-Harris Administration announces principles for delivering safer drinking water at White House event

January 27, 2023
Paige Baker, (919) 272-2168, pabaker@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – January 27, 2023)

At an event at the White House today, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the founding of the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership, a network of communities and organizations that have committed to seven principles that will hasten and guide the replacement of harmful lead water pipes across the United States.

Key principles call for accelerating the full replacement of lead pipes from street to house, prioritizing replacements in overburdened and underserved communities, and ensuring that residents get new water lines without added financial burdens.

The 100+ initial partners include cities and county water utilities, states, national water associations representing rural communities and large cities, and nongovernmental organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Vice President Harris convened the White House Summit on Lead Pipe Replacement with a group of mayors and founding partners and emphasized the administration’s commitment to supporting full replacement of all lead pipes within 10 years. Watch video of the event.

Funding for lead pipe replacements is available through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which President Biden signed into law in November 2021. By 2026, more than $15 billion will flow to states and local water utilities—bringing both safer drinking water to millions of Americans and jobs for workers in affected communities.

EPA estimates that 9 million lead pipes currently deliver drinking water into homes and businesses across the United States—putting millions at risk for devastating harms, including permanent neurological damage and coronary heart disease.

Children, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color, experience the greatest burden from lead exposure. This is due to many factors, including discriminatory practices in housing that have left communities of color with greater poverty and substandard housing.

Margot Brown, EDF Vice President, Justice and Equity, said, “It's encouraging to see this administration address the long-standing, harmful health impacts of lead and prioritize the health of future generations. Everyone deserves safe drinking water—and for too long, many communities of color and low-income areas have gone without. Federal and state governments should support local leaders as they try to access this funding to make sure that help gets to the communities experiencing the greatest harm."

Tom Neltner, Senior Director, Safer Chemicals, at EDF, participated in the meeting. “We applaud the White House for its advocacy and leadership to ensure that every community has access to safer drinking water. Too many don’t, in part because of racial segregation, redlining, and underinvestment in neighborhoods predominately comprised of people of color. Today’s event demonstrates that the administration is serious about engaging community leaders to accelerate replacement of lead pipes and put new IIJA funding to work to protect those at greatest risk.”

Note: To visualize underground lead water pipes, see our animated video at edf.org/lead

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia, and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys, and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund