Air pipes

Assembly approves measure to protect Californians from toxic lead water pipes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly today passed a law to protect residents by prohibiting the partial replacement of lead-corroded lead or galvanized service lines, a hazardous activity the state currently permits.

Assembly Bill 1931per member of the Assembly Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), also requires water systems to notify customers of potential lead exposure when replacing pipes. And the bill directs the state to use part of their allowance of last year’s Federal Infrastructure Act to fully fund the replacement of lead service lines on customer property. This year, the state will receive $249 million and disbursements could increase over the next five years.

“California will receive unprecedented funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act,” Rivas said. “We must capitalize on this historic opportunity by linking these federal dollars to AB 1931, which will prohibit problematic partial replacements and require significant health protections. Now is the time to act boldly.

“I am proud to join the EWG, the Natural Resources Defense Council and CALPIRG on this essential legislation,” she said. The groups sponsored the bill.

“Replacing the lead pipeline is a welcome and much-needed effort to remove lead from Californians’ drinking water,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior attorney for California government affairs. “AB 1931 will ensure that water systems comply with health protection requirements when removing or disturbing a lead pipeline. It will also ensure that the work is carried out with vital health safeguards. »

Lead water pipes have been used in hundreds of cities, most often in water pipes installed before the 1930s, and drinking water is a major source of lead exposure.

AB 1931 prohibits water utilities from replacing only part of a lead service line, which may include lead pipes or fittings under streets, and any lead-based pipe or galvanized line attached to a lead pipe connected to a house. Partial replacements do not reduce lead in drinking water and cause lead levels to spike, so banning them is vital to public health.

The bill also includes important consumer protections, such as notifying residents before replacing lead pipes, providing filters that remove lead from tap water, and testing water for lead levels before and after a complete pipe replacement. It also requires community water systems to create an accurate inventory of all known lead service lines in use.

There is no safe level of exposure to lead, a potent neurotoxin that can cause brain damage and lower IQ, among other health issues. Due to their developing bodies, babies and young children under the age of 6 are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead.

A recent study showed that even at very low levels, any exposure to lead in early life, from any source, increased the odds of being flagged for juvenile delinquency in adolescents. The number of these complaints increased as blood lead levels in early life increased.

“Lead is very toxic, especially to children,” said Jenn Engstrom, State Director of CALPIRG. “To ensure safe drinking water for our communities, we must eliminate lead from our drinking water systems.

“We commend the California Assembly for advancing AB 1931, which distributes federal funds to help families remove all lead pipes and parts from their property,” she said.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Act signed by President Joe Biden in November provides $15 billion nationwide to remove lead service lines that provide clean water to homes, businesses and schools. The law will pay for complete replacement of lead pipes and complete replacement of galvanized pipes attached to lead fittings.

AB 1931 directs the State Water Resources Control Board of California to use federal funds to create a grant program to finance the replacement of consumers’ lead pipes. Approximately 550,000 galvanized pipes could be or could have been attached to lead fittings in California.

“This bill will help ensure that California spends federal lead service line funding to remove lead from drinking water statewide,” the NRDC attorney said. Corinne Bell. “There is still a lot of work to do, but AB 1931 is officially starting a deliberate conversation about protecting communities from lead.”


The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that enables people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy, and unique educational tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide nonprofit organization working to protect public health and consumers. Learn more about

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) works to protect the earth – its people, plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We believe that the children of the world should inherit a planet that will support them as it has supported us. The NRDC works to secure the rights of all people to air, water and nature, and to prevent vested interests from undermining public interests.