NEW YORK — There is a call for New York state to literally — and figuratively — get the lead out, and find and chart all the lead pipes are around the state.
The call to produce the list comes as billions of dollars are about to be spent around the country to replaced dangerous lead water lines.
Lead in drinking water can lead to serious developmental issues, especially in young children.
As part of the infrastructure deal, Congress just committed $50 billion to replacing lead lines. New York is expected to get nearly $500 million next year alone.
However, currently there is no uniform statewide database of lead pipes to dictate of where the money should be spent. Much of New York’s congressional delegation has sent this letter to the state imploring the Hochul administration Department of Health to get the lead out and map the problem.
“The real concern is: is the state prepared to quickly and wisely do the work that needs to be done, and you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” said Josh Klainberg with the New York League of Conservation Voters.
The NYLCV said New York City has put out data about some of the lead lines around town, including large hotspots in Southeastern Queens. However, there are a lot of unknowns.
“For the City of New York about 16% of the service lines are lead, 25% are unknown,” said Klainberg. “So we really need to take the steps to find out what is potentially lead, and what is not lead.”
In response to the letter from congressional leaders, a state spokesperson wrote:
“Protecting New Yorkers from lead is one of our critical priorities. We appreciate the New York Congressional Delegation’s efforts to pass critical funding to replace lead service lines in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and agree that the important first step is for public water supplies to develop an accurate inventory of all the lead service lines within their system. Utilizing EPA’s forthcoming guidance, the Department of Health will work to provide training to water systems on how to conduct lead service line inventories, provide financial assistance to water systems as allowable under the new lead service line funding, and work to leverage all resources to assist water systems and existing technical assistance providers to facilitate the development of lead service line inventories.”