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White House unveils plan to replace lead pipes in US and set new water quality standards

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Volunteers hand out crates of bottled water at town hall in Flint, Michigan on March 12, 2016. Residents of Flint turned to bottled water after the town’s drinking water ran out. was found to be contaminated with lead after the source was tipped over to the Flint River in 2014 File Photo by Molly Riley / UPI | License photo

December 16 (UPI) – President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday announced it was spending nearly $ 3 billion from the new bipartisan infrastructure plan to replace old water pipes nationwide and set new limits for the amount of lead acceptable in drinking water.

The White House unveiled the plan, which details efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to improve the quality of service lines and water treatment.

Under the plan, all aging lead pipes will be removed from homes over the next 10 years. Higher levels of lead and heavy metals in drinking water have been linked to developmental and neurological problems.

The plan includes more than a dozen actions carried out by 10 federal agencies that would set priorities for the replacement of pipes in homes, schools, daycares and other establishments.

“All Americans deserve to drink clean water, breathe clean air and live in healthy homes,” the White House said in a statement. “However, lead in drinking water pipes, faucets, paint and walls threatens the health and well-being of American families and children across the country.

“The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless experts agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.”

Several US cities have discovered higher levels of lead in drinking water in recent years, including Flint, Michigan, which discovered the problem after changing their water source in 2014. The crisis lasted for five years.

Lucy Norman, 6, and her dog Rory watch volunteers deliver crates of bottled water in her neighborhood of Flint, Michigan, March 5, 2016. File Photo by Molly Riley / UPI

“Over the past year, I have met and heard from communities in Chicago, Flint, Jackson and many other areas affected by lead in drinking water,” EPA Administrator Michael said. Regan, in a statement.

“These conversations underscored the need to proactively remove lead service lines, especially in low income communities. vibrant communities. “

Officials said the administration would work with local and state officials to speed up the removal of lead pipes. EPA will contribute $ 2.9 billion under the infrastructure law, and officials said an additional $ 350 billion could be used from the local and national tax recovery fund created by the plan. Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which was adopted in March.

The funds will be used to replace lead service lines and lead valves and fittings, establish regional technical assistance centers to speed up the withdrawal with unions and local water agencies, and provide grants to eliminate the lead paint and other home health hazards in low income communities. .

Officials say Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which was passed by the House and is being debated in the Senate, could provide additional funds for water improvement efforts.