New York lawmakers want funding boost for lead pipe removal

Local government officials and state lawmakers on Thursday called for $50 million to be set aside in the state budget to aid a Department of Health program that replaces lead service lines in New York. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $227 billion state budget included $500 million in new funding from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act. But the budget proposal did not specifically outline where the money would go. 

Lawmakers want a line-item in the budget allocated to the lead line removal program. 

“It’s time for our state to finally rid itself of the dangers of lead in our drinking water infrastructure,” said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “Despite knowing for decades about the dangers of lead exposure, more than 360,000 lead service lines are still delivering water to New Yorkers — this is unacceptable. Replacing these lines can be an incredibly difficult process for many because of the upfront costs for these repairs. That’s why it’s so important to provide funding in this year’s state budget for the state Department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program that can help communities remove and replace lead service lines. Prioritizing this funding will help keep our drinking water safe in communities statewide for generations to come.”

The average cost of replacing a residential lead water service line can range between $5,000 and $12,000. Upstate communities like Schenectady and Amsterdam have been able to use the program, but the annual allocation can be quickly depleted. 

The program as of last summer replaced 2,300 lead pipes at more than two dozen communities in the state. 

Earlier this year, Hochul backed a plan that would accelerate the removal of lead from residential buildings by offsetting the costs of inspections and helping to pay for renovations when dangerous conditions are found. 

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