Protect Low-Income Communities of Color From Lead Exposure

Target: Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Protect low-income communities from lead exposure by requiring water utilities to pay for the replacement of lead pipes.

A recent study found that low-income communities of color are less likely to have their water pipes, which are often contaminated with lead, replaced by the utility company. Low levels of lead exposure can cause irreversible neurological damage.

According to the Environmental Proection Agency (EPA), utility companies should invest more than three billion dollars in the next two decades to replace and improve service lines and underground pipes. However, the standard practice of many utilities is to only replace pipes that are on public property, leaving property owners with the cost of replacing their own pipes. This practice leads to no long term decrease in the risk of lead exposure, and in some cases, actually increases the possibility of lead contaminating drinking water.

There is a huge disparity between predominantly low-income African American households and white households regarding who is paying for their pipes to be replaced. All too often, low-income communities of color do not have the funds to pay for replacement, and therefore face higher exposure to lead. While the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule claims to “identify the most at-risk communities,” it fails to factor in how certain communities are supposed to pay the significant cost of pipe replacement. Sign below to demand the EPA require utilities to pay for the replacement of lead contaminated pipes in order to protect communities of color from increased lead exposure.


Dear Mr. Wheeler,

Your Lead and Copper Rule states that it will “identify the most at-risk communities and ensure systems have plans in place to rapidly respond by taking actions to reduce elevated levels of lead in drinking water.” However, this rule fails to factor in the significant cost to property owners, particularly in low-income communities of color, of replacing their contaminated pipes.

Requiring property owners to shoulder the cost of replacing water lines contaminated with lead is unethical and dangerous to public health. This system reinforces racial and socio-economic disparity by making it more likely for low-income communities to be exposed to lead.

In order to protect low-income communities of color and public health from dangerous lead exposure, I demand that you include a provision in your Lead and Copper Rule that requires utilities to pay for pipe replacement on private property.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Paul Goyette

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