Smith & Cuellar introduce ‘Get the Lead Out’ bill to fund $14 billion for drinking water clean-up and infrastructure projects
Bipartisan bill will help States & utilities like Trenton Water Works
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has been working to help alleviate the threat of lead in drinking water systems in his district and other areas of New Jersey, has partnered with Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to introduce the Get the Lead Out Act (HR 7918) which would authorize $14 billion over two years and require every utility in America to develop a plan to identify and remove lead pipes that threaten residents, especially children, from the dangers of lead.
“For every family and every household, clean drinking water is an essential necessity of everyday living,” said Smith, prime sponsor of the bill. “People need to know the water from the kitchen tap they drink or cook with is clean and safe for themselves and their families. Lead service line replacement is needed to give them that peace of mind. Local, state and federal government must work together to make that a reality. This bill will help ‘get the lead out’ of drinking water in towns like Trenton and Hamilton in my district, throughout New Jersey and across the country.
“Rep. Cuellar and I are teaming up to advance a bipartisan plan to tackle this threat to human health which can cause long-term harm in adults and which presents a particular danger to children, who are especially vulnerable to lead,” Smith said.
“No community should have to worry that their drinking water is tainted with lead. Any amount of lead in drinking water can have serious developmental and health impacts for children,” said Cuellar. “This legislation will help utility companies invest in critical infrastructure plans and remove dangerous chemicals from our communities’ water. I am committed to protecting our children and families by limiting their exposure to lead and making sure they have access to safe drinking water. I want to thank Congressman Smith for his leadership on this issue.”
The Smith-Cuellar Get the Lead Out Act directs all community water systems across the US to develop a plan to inventory and replace all lead service lines (LSLs) in their system within 10 years. The plan must be submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval.
To help community water systems afford these necessary upgrades, the Smith-Cuellar bill authorizes nearly $14 billion over two years with $13 billion targeted directly to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). The DWSRF is a federal-state partnership fund and a main source of funding that allows states to receive monies from EPA and in turn offer low interest loans—and even forgivable loans—to local water systems to achieve healthy drinking water.
The bill also provides $180 million for the Lead Reduction Grant Program at the EPA, a competitive grant program for schools, states, municipalities, tribal water systems and community water systems. Once awarded, these funds can be used for corrosion control and replacing lead service lines as well.
Smith said, “Congress must act on this critical legislation that’s long overdue and can make drinking water safer for generations of Americans.”