14,000 lead pipes carry Albany’s drinking water. The city wants to replace them.

ALBANY – There are an estimated 14,000 lead pipes supplying drinking water to people’s homes in the city. On Wednesday, workers ripped one of them out and replaced it with a safe, lead-free version of a house service pipe that connects the water pipe to the house.

“Go down one, fourteen thousand,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said at a press conference with US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, US Representative Paul Tonko, and others, about a cost-sharing program to replace aging pipes and the Rally to promote support for President Joe Biden’s $ 3.25 trillion federal spending plan, which would include funding for such infrastructure improvements.

“We need a national investment so we can get the lead services out faster,” said Sheehan.

Many of the utility lines for which the homeowner is responsible date from the 1930s or earlier, when lead pipes were still in use. Older cities like Albany are full of it.

Although lead is valued for its flexibility and durability, it also contains neurotoxins, which are particularly harmful to children. It has been abolished over the years in both plumbing and house painting.

There are ways to protect yourself from the ingestion of tiny amounts of lead that could leak from a service line, e.g. B. by leaving the faucet running for a few seconds before filling a glass. And it’s not seen as a hazard comparable to lead paint that young children can unknowingly swallow or chew.

But most agree that the lead lines should come out at some point.

“There is no safe lead content,” said Albany Water Commissioner Joe Coffey.

The program unveiled on Wednesday is run by the city and can reimburse homeowners up to $ 2,000 to replace a senior service line.

The house that was being worked on at the Wednesday event at 515 Second St. in the West Hill neighborhood was a rental home. The owner noticed a leaking service line, a typical way people replace these pipes.

People of color live in many of the city’s older neighborhoods, adding a social justice component to the need to replace the aging, polluted pipes.

Lead-contaminated water made national headlines in 2014 when it became known that the water in Flint, Michigan was heavily contaminated with lead and bacterial contaminants. In this case, however, the drinking water was not treated with corrosion inhibitors, which meant that too much lead could be washed out.

Albany uses corrosion treatments in accordance with federal guidelines to minimize leaching. The Department of Water says 90 percent of homes tested were below lead levels, which trigger recommendations for remedial action.

In addition, the city can also provide free water filters if a home’s drinking water is over 10 parts per billion.

While the program unveiled Wednesday received state and local funding, Sheehan and others hoped the $ 3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending plan, which Biden is pushing to get through Congress, will be passed . That would free up federal funds for pipe replacement. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing money for lead paint removal, and a similar program on pipes would be helpful, Sheehan said.

Regan noted that Biden’s plan includes $ 55 billion for projects like replacing utility lines, as well as rehabilitating PFAS and improving rainwater drainage.

The methods and programs for replacing service lines are well established. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Regan said.

[email protected] 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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