Federal legislators from New Jersey are leading the charge in overhaul America’s aging water infrastructure, with a focus on replacing lead pipes, under the Lead Free America Bond program.
Sen. Bob Menendez, Sen. Cory Booker, and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. joined together in support of the bill. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) also sponsored it in the House.
The bill would help to provide funding to towns that were looking to replace aging water infrastructure.
“Towns and cities across New Jersey are sitting on some of the nation’s oldest water infrastructure. And while many communities are taking proactive steps to replace lead pipes and modernize their antiquated water systems, doing so comes with a hefty price tag,” said Sen. Menendez, who serves as a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Issuing Lead Free America Bonds
The Lead Free America Bonds Act would allow eligible communities to accelerate their replacement of lead pipes and aging infrastructure through Lead Free American Bonds (LFABs).
LFABs would be issued to municipalities to replace lead water pipes that exceed EPA limits on lead. Once issued, a municipality would have five years to ensure project completion.
The funds would be eligible for publicly-owned infrastructure, and service lines that lie on private property.
“The federal government has a responsibility to provide funding to remediate lead in drinking water, and this legislation will provide desperately needed assistance for communities in New Jersey to repair and upgrade drinking water systems,” said Booker.
A National Problem with Jersey Implications
“From Michigan to New Jersey, the scourge of lead contamination has been tragic and far-reaching. The costs of lead pipes are often borne by some of our most disadvantaged and impoverished communities,” said Rep. Pascrell, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee that sets national tax policy.
CDC data indicates that 500,000 children in America have elevated levels of lead in the blood. Left untreated, lead exposure can cause damage to the nervous system and brain.
Often, this exposure presents as with developmental delays, intellectual impairment, speech and hearing problems and learning disabilities.
“Without federal support, it is difficult for many municipalities to initiate or continue critical infrastructure projects, and this program will go a long way towards ensuring that no New Jerseyan needs to worry about whether the water in their home is safe to use,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.