EPA Commits $5.8 Billion for Water Infrastructure Upgrades

Aerial view of water treatment plant

(Credit: Unsplash)

by | Feb 21, 2024

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The Environmental Protection Agency is investing $5.8 billion in essential water infrastructure that will be directed toward improvements of aging water treatment plants, replacement of lead pipes, upgrades to stormwater management, and more, throughout the United States.

The funding was made available through the EPA’s clean and drinking water state revolving funds (SRF), with $2.6 billion going toward the clean water SRF for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and $3.2 billion to the drinking water SRF to support drinking water infrastructure. About half of the funding will be made available as grants or principal forgiveness loans, aiming to bring funds to underserved communities, according to the EPA.

Many communities across the U.S. face increasing climate change-related flood impacts and therefore struggle to maintain effective stormwater infrastructure. Meanwhile, a number of cities seek water plant upgrades to address contaminants, including PFAS, which have recently gained attention as chemical of special concern for being connected to human and environmental health risks.

So far, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has directed $21.9 billion to water infrastructure projects. Funding has already supported projects ranging from revitalizing waterways and limiting toxins in the Columbia River Basin to implementation of a green stormwater infrastructure plan in Hawaii.

Funding Aids Efforts to Address Aging Lead Pipes

The funding partly aims to support projects meant to replace lead pipes as the EPA estimates about 9.2 million lead service lines currently direct water to communities across the country. Near the end of 2023, the Biden administration announced plans to replace all lead pipes from water service lines within the next 10 years to help reduce all sources of lead exposure in the country.

Lead contamination has been known as a hazard to human and animal health and is linked to slowed child development, cardiovascular risks, reproductive concerns, and other potential adverse health effects. Lead pipes provide water to schools and residential areas, particularly in low-income communities throughout the U.S.

“Upwards of 37 public schools in Western Pennsylvania have lead contamination in their water,” said Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee. “I’m proud to work with the Biden Administration to bring home an additional $99 million for clean water and $75 million for clean drinking water from the Environmental Protection Agency to Pennsylvania — which will mean less kids getting sick and more families having the security of knowing their environment isn’t posing an imminent threat to their health.”

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