City Now Eligible for Lead Pipe Replacement Funds

POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor Yvonne Flowers announced that the City of Poughkeepsie has become eligible for $3.2 million in grants and more than $8 million in interest-free loans to start lead service line replacement projects. The city competed with larger New York municipalities for approximately $130 million in federal funds awarded to the state to improve the quality of drinking water statewide.

The New York State Department of Health completed an evaluation of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Replacement funding and made the determination that the city is eligible for these financial resources, contingent upon city acceptance and formal award of The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans and grants.

The city has about 5,080 residential lead water service lines and is seeking various financial sources to replace them, with an estimated total cost of more than $100 million. While lead in drinking water does not come from the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Plant, it can enter the water by corrosion, or wearing away, of lead in the service line and household plumbing in homes built before 1986.

“We know we can’t fix this problem overnight, but the city is moving aggressively to obtain funds to replace these lead pipes, and I thank our city staff, especially our Finance and Engineering Departments, for doing the hard work of compiling data and completing these applications to move us in the right direction,” said Mayor Flowers.

The first phase of Poughkeepsie’s lead service line replacement project will begin with an inventory study taking place in 2024-2025. The inventory, required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule, is expected to be entirely funded with $2 million of this grant award.

Though no amount of lead exposure is considered safe, the Environmental Protection Agency established regulations that mandate communities must take action if certain lead content levels are exceeded.

In 1997 the city initiated treatment to substantially reduce corrosion in lead pipes. Ninety percent of the customers tested in 2022 had a lead content of the city’s water of 1.8 parts per billion. The highest test result was 8.4 parts per billion, which is below the 15 parts per billion threshold set by the EPA.

To date, the city has received about $544,000 to replace lead pipe lines and has completed 23 projects involving day care facilities and residences where young children and immune system compromised residents live.

Lead Service Line replacement costs go to construction, including materials, equipment, workforce; engineering fees for planning, design and construction; legal fees; municipal administration fees; and for site/property restoration.

Significantly, the city has decided to use the best practices model of replacing the whole line, from the water main to the residence. Some municipalities pay for only the portion running from the water main to the curb, leaving private property owners to pay for the rest of the project and running the risk that the project does not get fully completed.

“I want to thank Congressman Pat Ryan for inviting state and federal Environmental Protection Agency representatives and state Health Department officials to meet with us to discuss funding sources and what is needed to be eligible for lead pipe replacement grants,” Mayor Flowers said. “We recognize the significant costs it will take to replace all lead service lines in our city, and we will explore all grant opportunities to help reduce the cost burden on our city residents.”

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