April 21, 2022

In Chicago, Duckworth Leads Field Hearing on Her Bipartisan Law’s Impact on Removing Lead From Drinking Water


[CHICAGO, IL] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, today led a subcommittee field hearing in Chicago on the implementation of her Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is helping support the replacement of lead service lines throughout Illinois and across the country. As the state with the most known lead service lines in the nation, Illinois and the City of Chicago face unique challenges in executing full lead service line replacement. While Chicago has launched a voluntary lead service line replacement program and Illinois law now requires full lead line replacement, federal support will be critical in increasing, expediting and improving the roll out of these plans. Video from today’s hearing is available here and photos are available here.

“There has been a historic lack of investment in our nation’s water infrastructure … DWWIA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are going to change this,” Duckworth said in her opening statement. “Lead pipes are a health crisis in this country. According to the CDC, there is no known safe level of lead for children. Despite lead service lines being banned nearly 35 years ago, as of 2019, roughly half a million children under the age of 6 in this country still had elevated levels of lead in their blood. We cannot continue to put our children at risk of permanent brain and kidney damage. We must figure out how to replace these pipes in an equitable and efficient manner. We must facilitate collaboration between states, municipalities and the federal government to finally make lead-free drinking water a reality for all communities.”

Duckworth’s DWWIA and the federal funding provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be able to dramatically accelerate projects to remove dangerous lead pipes and protect countless children against permanent, irreversible brain damage from drinking lead-contaminated water. Full funding for DWWIA was included in President Biden’s FY23 budget, which was announced last month. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s entire drinking water and wastewater authorization division is Duckworth’s bipartisan DWWIA, and the law includes advance appropriations to fund DWWIA programs and additional lead service line replacement initiatives over the next five years to help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure.

With the provisions in DWWIA, increased funding through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is provided, as well as increased access to grant funding for disadvantaged communities. Before its inclusion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, last year Duckworth successfully shepherded passage of DWWIA in the Senate by a vote of 89 to 2. Duckworth is also the co-founder of the U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus.

Today’s hearing witnesses included Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John Kim, City of Chicago Water Management Commissioner Andrea Cheng, Metropolitan Planning Council Policy Manager Dr. Justin Williams and Elevate Water Programs Strategist Anthena Gore. These witnesses highlighted how states and municipalities can implement this law and help get lead out of drinking water for residents and to discuss the work that Chicago and Illinois have already begun.