WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to prevent exposure to lead in Rhode Island’s drinking water, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced $28.65 million in drinking water funding for the Ocean State to advance lead pipe replacement projects.

The funding flows through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and was provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $15 billion investment over five years to identify and replace lead service lines across the nation.

Lead can leach from pipes and taint water.  No amount of lead is safe, and consuming it can lead to behavioral and learning problems in children, as well as heart, kidney, and reproductive issues in adults.

Water can be treated with chemicals to prevent lead from entering the water, but the only way to eradicate the threat of lead completely is to remove the pipes themselves.

“Replacing aging lead pipes is a serious public health priority for communities across the nation, including here in Rhode Island. This new wave of $28.65 million in federal funding for the Ocean State will put people to work safeguarding the health of our communities and ensuring safe drinking water for all,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who has championed initiatives to address lead hazards and eliminate childhood lead exposure, including the CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, which is the only federal program that tracks rates of lead poisoning among children and helps target where resources should be directed.

Senator Reed also leads efforts in the Senate to expand federal investments in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in order to help ensure that all Americans have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Rhode Island has received over $85 million in federal funding between fiscal years 2022 to 2024 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace aging lead pipes across the state. According to the law, 49 percent of funds provided through the DWSRF General Supplemental Funding and DWSRF Lead Service Line Replacement Funding programs must be provided as grants and forgivable loans to historically underserved communities.

Today’s EPA funding announcement totals $3 billion for every state and territory. EPA administers the DWSRF program to states and funding allotments are based on EPA’s updated 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment.

According to EPA, as many as 10 million lead pipes nationwide still carry water to homes and businesses across the country. Rhode Island lead prevention advocates estimate that there could be as many as 100,000 drinking water pipes throughout the state that still contain lead.