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Infrastructure Week Every Week: First Big Allotment Heading to States to Fix Lead Pipes & Water Supplies

Infrastructure Week Every Week: First Big Allotment Heading to States to Fix Lead Pipes & Water Supplies

The first major tranche of federal cash from the bipartisan infrastructure law is on its way to states to overhaul the country’s aging water infrastructure and dangerous lead pipes.

The Biden administration announced Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will distribute $7.4 billion to states, tribes, and territories for 2022 focused on water infrastructure grants and loan forgiveness. The funding is part of a broader $50 billion investment in water infrastructure from the infrastructure law, which will be doled out over five years.

The money includes $2.9 billion specifically earmarked to replace lead pipes, and President Joe Biden has promised that every remaining lead pipe in the country will be eliminated under the deal. Another $866 million will be designated to deal with “forever chemicals” and other water contaminants that threaten the drinking water supply, the EPA said.

 

Explaining to the public exactly how it will benefit from the far-reaching deal has been a challenge for the Biden administration, which sent the President on a sort of mini infrastructure Goodwill tour. President Biden first inspected a crumbling bridge in New Hampshire last month and spoke to a technical college in Minnesota on Tuesday in his effort to call attention to how individual communities could benefit from the new infrastructure package.

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EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an interview that it is the “single largest investment in water infrastructure” in the history of the federal government. “This law’s investment in water is nothing short of transformational,” Regan said. “We’re less than three weeks post the president signing this, and we’re hitting the ground running.”

The Biden administration has only limited say in how the money gets spent. Some of the funding will flow through federal grants, which the administration can issue to specific projects. But the majority of the dollars will be distributed to states, which will ultimately decide what projects they want to fund.

 

 

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