Infrastructure funding goes to lead testing and remediation
Although the Infrastructure Bill has passed, the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Drinking Water is still working out the specific details of how funding will be used in Utah.
“ We are still working through the bill, to really understand exactly how the funding can go to communities across the state in order to help them improve their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. That's really the areas where we're focused,” says Tim Davis, Director of the Division of Drinking Water. The Infrastructure bill has allocated 360 million dollars over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state, with the goal of providing all communities in Utah with safe and clean drinking water. He says the Division plans to use a large portion this funding to enhance existing lead testing programs.
“The bipartisan infrastructure funding does provide specific funding for lead service line removal, and that's, so that's think of that as the line that goes from the water main into your house. That's the lead is at the service line. Some of those service lines, especially the older ones, may contain lead. And so the large focus of one of the programs for bipartisan funding is to identify or inventory those lead service lines in Utah, and then replace them," Davis added.
The Division of Drinking Water has been focused on lead testing and lead remediation efforts particularly for schools and childcare centers for several years,
Davis says, “We, as a state have been working on ways to sample for and identify and then fix high sources of lead in school and childcare, drinking water across the state. We’ve been working with the legislature and the governor to identify potential sources of funding that will allow all schools and childcare centers to be able to do sampling and remediate high sources of lead.”
Davis says this is a long term project and infrastructure funding will help bolster these efforts. So far, sampling for lead has been done voluntarily at 40 schools, with 39% of those samples detecting lead.