$17 million to replace lead pipes in Northern Marianas

10:07 am on 7 May 2024

Photo: 123rf

The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has been allotted more than US$17 million by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace lead service lines.

The EPA said lead can cause a range of health issues and US President Joe Biden has committed to replacing every lead pipe in the country.

The funding comes from Biden's Investing in America agenda, and will be made available through the EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Martha Guzman said "every single person living in the CNMI" deserves access to clean, safe drinking water, and "a guarantee that they and their loved ones will be protected from lead contamination".

"Thanks to President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is investing an unprecedented amount of funding to replace these harmful lead service lines, with communities at the greatest risk of lead poisoning prioritized."

The EPA and CNMI are advancing the President's Justice40 Initiative, to ensure that 40 percent of overall benefits from certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities, including those overburdened by lead exposure and pollution.

The EPA said lead exposure disproportionately affects communities of colour and low-income communities.

EPA administrator Michael Regan said President Biden has secured significant resources for states and territories to accelerate the permanent removal of dangerous lead pipes.

"The science is clear - there is no safe level of lead exposure, and the primary source of harmful exposure in drinking water is through lead pipes," he said.

To date, the total funding announced through this program is expected to replace up to 1.7 million lead pipes US-wide.

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