Detroit mayor joins multi-state partnership to replace lead pipes - TAI News
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Workmen prepare to replace older water pipes with a new copper one. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

At a summit held at the White House on April 23, the mayors of Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago announced that they had joined the Great Lakes Lead Pipes Partnership. The organization is meant to foster collaboration among cities in the Great Lakes region to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes used to deliver water.

“The Great Lakes Lead Pipes Partnership will enable us to showcase this progress across the region, as well as learn new ideas for improving our program from cities facing similar challenges,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his city has replaced more than 5,000 lead pipes this year, adding, “The Great Lakes Lead Pipes Partnership is the ideal coalition to help us sustain this incredible pace and secure additional funding from the federal government to remove 80,000 lead service lines as fast as possible.”

Many water delivery systems across the United States have historically used lead piping to deliver water, but lead poisoning can cause serious health problems for both children and adults. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead-tainted water can cause behavioral and learning problems for children, as well as slowed growth and hearing problems. In adults, the tainted water has been linked to increased blood pressure and hypertension, decreased kidney function, and problems with the reproductive system in both men and women.

The announcement of the Great Lakes Lead Pipes Partnership was a part of the White House Water Summit, at which the Biden administration announced a national partnership to protect freshwater resources.

The White House said that there are an estimated 9 million lead pipes still in place in the U.S. and that many are located in the Great Lakes region.

The newly announced partnership is a part of the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership launched in 2023 at a White House summit.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of replacing all lead service lines in the U.S. within the next decade.

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Biden signed into law contains more than $26 billion in funding for line replacement and safe drinking water funds.

According to the White House, more than $699 million in federal funding from the law has been announced for Michigan water infrastructure projects. Of that funding, $86.9 million has been specifically earmarked for lead line replacement, and another $144.7 million for water projects that can also be used to address lead pipe issues.

The infrastructure law had the support of all the Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation, including Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, but was opposed by all of the Republicans representing the state in Congress.The infrastructure law had the support of all of the Democrats in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson opposed the law, as did his fellow Wisconsin Republicans in the House.

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