Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti and City of Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy met at the State Capitol to call for this year’s state budget to include $50 million earmarked for the state Department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSLRP), which helps remove and replace dangerous lead service lines that can contaminate public drinking water serving residents in homes across New York State.
The LSLRP is funded through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act (CWIA) initiative. While the governor’s budget proposal included $500 million in new funding for the CWIA, the spending plan did not specify how this funding would be allocated across the initiative’s 13 programs. “A line-item allocation for the LSLRP is essential to ensure the program receives sufficient funding,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a civil engineer by trade.
Since 2018, New York has allocated $4.5 billion for the CWIA. However, only $30 million of these funds have flowed to the LSLRP and new grants have not been awarded since 2019. With the average cost of replacing a single residential lead water service line ranging between $5,000 and $12,000, municipalities like Schenectady and Amsterdam that have taken advantage of the program in years past have quickly deplete their annual allocation long before finishing the needed replacements.
As of July 2022, the LSLRP has replaced 2,300 lead pipes in 28 municipalities across New York, including the cities of Amsterdam and Schenectady. There are still around 360,000 lead services lines delivering drinking water to New Yorkers, predominantly in low-income areas and communities of color that would not be able to afford to make the necessary repairs with this grant.
Additionally, New York will be receiving more than $500 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace lead pipes over the next five years, however this would only cover approximately a third of the funding needed. This shortfall requires significant state investment to ensure every lead pipe is replaced. While $50 million is not enough to replace every lead service line in the state, it will put New York on the pathway to completely remove lead pipes, noted Santabarbara.
“It’s time for our state to finally rid itself of the dangers of lead in our drinking water infrastructure,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara. “Despite knowing for decades about the dangers of lead exposure, more than 360,000 lead service lines are still delivering water to New Yorkers — this is unacceptable. Replacing these lines can be an incredibly difficult process for many because of the upfront costs for these repairs. That’s why it’s so important to provide funding in this year’s state budget for the state Department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program that can help communities remove and replace lead service lines. Prioritizing this funding will help keep our drinking water safe in communities statewide for generations to come.”
“Lead line replacement is absolutely essential to upstate cities like Amsterdam with century-old water distribution infrastructures, to assure residents of the safest possible drinking water supply,” said City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti. “We appreciate the steadfast efforts and support of Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and the NYS Assembly to provide this critical funding.”
“I look forward to working together and staying ahead of potential problems dealing with lead in our pipes. It's a costly project for both homeowners and municipalities to replace old pipes,” said City of Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “Along with my fellow leaders, I ask the state to set aside specific funds to help the residents. We need to work together to find a solution. I thank Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara for taking the lead in this matter."