In the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, two other states – Ohio and Wisconsin – appear poised to increase support for communities to protect against lead contamination in their drinking water infrastructure, especially related to lead service lines.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) is preparing to implement a new Lead Service Line Replacement Funding program. The first of its kind in the region, the program makes $11.8M available to municipalities to help remove old lead service lines that bring drinking water from larger utility-owned pipes onto individual properties. The program takes advantage of a recent U.S. EPA policy allowing increased state flexibility in allocating water infrastructure loan funding. If the program is successful, WI DNR hopes to provide a similar level of funding in the next fiscal year.
This week, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 512, a multifaceted law that steps up the state’s protections against lead contamination in drinking water. The law, which is awaiting the Governor’s signature, enables the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to provide increased financial assistance to public water systems, and specifically references systems with lead service lines.
The law also includes provisions for sampling and corrosion control, mapping lead infrastructure in public water systems, tightening public notice requirements and penalties, and other items. H.B. 512 directs Ohio EPA to pass rules under the law within 120 days of the law taking effect.