EPA Announces Change to Funding For Lead Pipe Replacement: New Distribution Will Be Based on Need

Past allocations left states with the most lead service lines receiving significantly less per lead line than those with fewer pipes 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced changes that are intended to direct the remaining funds from the $15 billion infrastructure dollars for replacing lead water pipes to states with the greatest need. A report published last year by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) determined that EPA’s published allotments for the first round of lead service line replacement funding left states with the most lead service lines—like Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio—receiving far less per lead line than states with fewer lead service lines.  

“EPA’s changes will ensure a fairer and more equitable distribution of funding dollars to replace the nation’s millions of lead pipes,” said Cyndi Roper, NRDC’s Michigan Senior Policy Advocate and co-author of the EPA’s lead pipe funding analysis. “It’s good news for communities with the highest need that will now have access to more funding to get lead pipes out of the ground.” 

One notable change is that Florida has emerged as the state with the most lead service lines in the nation, beating out Illinois. Florida reported 1,159,300 lead pipes in its 2021 state assessment, whereas Illinois reported 1,043,294; that number of lead pipes makes Florida eligible for federal funding of $254.8 million for lead for fiscal year 2023. In NRDC’s 2021 survey, Florida was estimated to have 200,000 lead pipes, a number that was based on previous industry estimates. State officials informed NRDC in 2021 that “Florida's drinking water program does not track lead service lines and we have not developed estimations.” 


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—includes a $15 billion commitment to replace the nation’s lead pipes that connect what an NRDC 50-state survey estimated are 9 to 12 million homes throughout the United States to the drinking water mains in their streets. NRDC fought alongside community partners and others to secure this funding and now is working with these groups to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the funds. Approximately $3 billion of these funds have already been allocated to states based upon an outdated formula that an NRDC analysis found shortchanged states with large numbers of lead lines. 

The analysis co-authored last summer by NRDC’s Cyndi Roper and Elin Betanzo at Safe Water Engineering determined that under the first round of EPA funding, states with the most lead service lines—like Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio—would receive far less per lead line than states with fewer lead service lines. For example, the states of Michigan and Missouri received an estimated $151 per lead service line, while some states with fewer lines will receive more per line: Hawaii received an estimated $10,098 per line. The full data set can be found here

Every state has lead service lines, but some have significantly more than others. The highest concentration of lead service lines delivering water to homes are in the upper Midwest and Northeast states as well as Texas.  

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC. 

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