AMSTERDAM, NY—Congressman Paul D. Tonko, author of the AQUA Act and one of the few engineers serving in Congress, gathered with local leaders and health and environmental experts in New York’s Capital Region this week to explore real-life impacts of lead exposure that is driving coordinated federal and local efforts to remove all lead components from local water systems. Tonko convened the group shortly after the Senate voted to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package that includes $15 billion for lead pipe water replacement, far short of the $45 billion experts say is needed to replace all 10 million lead service lines currently in use across the nation—including numerous schools and childcare centers in New York and beyond.
“There is no safe level of lead in our water, and even minimal exposure can bring a lifetime of painful consequences” Congressman Tonko said. “If we fail to make the investments that remove this dangerous contaminant from our drinking water, our vulnerable populations, our low-income communities and our children will be the ones who suffer most. I’ve long been pushing for robust funding that replaces every lead water line in the country and makes investments to rebuild and repair our broken water systems. I am grateful for the strong action from local leaders in our Capital Region to ensure clean drinking water. Congress must support and expand these efforts by delivering the necessary resources that get the job done to protect our kids and our communities.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “As Congress continues to negotiate the Build Back Better climate recovery package proposed by President Biden, we are fortunate to have a champion in Congressman Tonko who is fighting for the resources we need for lead poisoning prevention. We were happy to join him and our partners to support a bold and aggressive investment that would improve drinking water quality and public health and create jobs by eliminating all lead pipes and service lines. We look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure that clean drinking water infrastructure is a top priority in the final legislation.”
Tonko has long championed the push to repair America’s water systems. For months he pushed to advance his AQUA Act that provides needed federal investments to local communities to address critical water infrastructure needs, deliver a lifeline to beleaguered water utilities in return for a commitment to temporarily halt all water shutoffs for struggling customers, and invest the $45 billion needed to replace every one of the millions of lead service lines still in use.
Last month, he led group of more than 100 members in the House of Representatives calling for Congressional leadership to prioritize funding to remove all lead drinking water service lines and components currently in use in the United States.