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Local News

Biden Infrastructure Law brings $32.8 million to Colorado to replace lead pipes


Eric Galatas, Producer

Nearly $33 million from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Law is headed to Colorado to help locate and remove hazardous lead pipes from the state’s 900 community drinking water systems. Lead water pipes were once commonly used because they were cheap and flexible, but were banned in 1986 over health concerns.

Ron Falco, Safe Drinking Water Program Manager with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said young children are most at risk for lead exposure because their bodies are still developing.

“And over time that lead can build up, and even at low levels in the water, cause health effects. Those health effects can include learning difficulties, loss of appetite, hearing loss or harm to brain development,” he explained.

Water managers will create maps identifying the location of lead pipes by October of this year. The Environmental Protection agency has estimated that nationwide, there are some nine million lead water lines. Falco said he expects most public drinking water systems in Colorado will report no lead pipes, largely because they were installed after the ban went into effect.

The Infrastructure Law provides over $50 billion to improve the nation’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure, the single largest investment in water ever made by the federal government. Falco pointed out that federal money is key to addressing the scale of work required to locate and remove lead pipes buried underground.

“So this funding is part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. The costs to remove these pipes can really add up, so it’s really great to have that federal support,” he said.

The effort is part of Biden’s agenda to generate economic opportunities by investing at least half of the money in historically underserved neighborhoods including communities of color. Falco expects the work of replacing lead pipes that connect water mains with households to be a priority for water systems in Colorado over the next 10 to 15 years.

“Adults and children who live in older neighborhoods, where lead is more likely to be found, will be safer from the harmful effects of lead once those pipes are removed,” he said.

This story is republished from Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.