Need Quick Action
In this section we'll talk about the reasons why we need to take quick action if we are to achieve our goal of the removal of all residential lead service lines. We'll discuss how the actions we must take are actually an opportunity for our city and not a burden on our community.
Elsewhere on this web site we've learned about the severe and long lasting Lead Health Effects on children as well as adults. The greatest threat though is to pregnant women , their fetus , infants, and children under the age of 6 years old. Once poisoned however the effects can last throughout adulthood. So the paramount reason we should act quickly is for our children and our children's children.
Oneida County and particularly the City of Utica has one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in New York State. This multi-generational scourge on our community has affected thousands of our children. Lead poisoning is a health, social, and financial burden on our citizens and city. Think about the cost of unfulfilled potential in our children as they struggle with learning and behavioral difficulties. Think of the financial hardships from the years of medical visits and possible chelation therapy. All the while knowing that the damage is permanent and so may be the struggle to manage the symptoms of lead poisoning. Also consider that scientific studies since the 1920s and 1930s have linked lead poisoning with violent behavior and criminal activity. Why should kids have to be at risk year after year. Don't we all deserve to drink lead free water NOW?
Here are some other reasons why we need to take urgent action to remove all lead service lines.
(in no particular order)
In the We Have The Money Now section we explained that Utica has already received enough money in 2021 to replace all lead service lines multiple times over. We also pointed out that more federal funds are on the way from the recently passed Infrastructure Bill . In addition there are state monies that Utica received back in 2017 but chose not to spend; even though people were in need. We'll discuss one example in the Join Us & Take Action part of our web site.
What the city and the Mayor Palmieri Administration has spent however, is about $30 million dollars of the $65 million Utica is scheduled to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act. Unfortunately so far this administration has not shown that removal of lead services lines is a priority; since these expenditures of funds did not include a plan for this critical infrastructure project. This despite the fact that he could have taken out all the residential lead service lines in Utica and still had tens of millions left over. The rest of the ARPA funds will arrive shortly (about $35 million dollars) . Will these funds be used to solve our lead pipe issue? They will if you Join Us & Take Action immediately. Let the Public officials know that lead service line removal is your priority.
You may be thinking ; okay we have the money now and more is on the way, what's the rush? Here's the long winded explanation. Originally President Biden wanted enough money in the Infrastructure bill to take out every lead service line in the nation. The Aqua Act sponsored by Congressman Tonko for instance earmarked $45 billion for the task. Well, by the time Congress got done with all their squabbling , the money was reduced from $45 to $15 billion dollars. Originally much more of the money was to be allocated as grants but the final bill resulted in more loan language.
If you look at the map of the US (above) you'll see that lead service line removal is a national problem. Now that there is not enough money for everybody, the competition for funding will be intense.
Other monies that may come from the passage of the Reconciliation bill will not be as flexible as the American Rescue Plan Act funds for example. In addition, as of the end of November 2021 there is no guarantee that it will even be passed.
There are many other sources of funding that can be used, many of which are listed in our We Have The Money Now page. The point however, is that they are not nearly as large as the ARPA funds nor are they as flexible.
Another reason to act quickly is that most of these grants and loans have a rather short shelf life. If not used poof they go away. Utica is sitting on the NYS funds that will be unusable in a matter of months. Even the ARPA funds have a deadline of the end of 2024.
In addition to the long-term health benefits and savings, our area will experience immediate economic impacts from such a large infrastructure project. We have 3 words for ya, jobs, jobs, jobs. I'll leave it up to the economists to come up with the economic multiplier for such a big undertaking. The sooner we begin the project the sooner we will start to reap the economic benefits.
We should also get grants to minority and community groups so that they can be involved in the hiring and training of individuals who can complete an inventory of lead service lines in the City of Utica as required by the Lead & Copper Rule. Of course there should be training of minority, women, and members of underserved communities to fill the new job positions that will be needed for such a large infrastructure project.
Paving of our streets is another reason that time is of paramount importance. You may recall that a residential lead line extends from the curb to your house. The water utility (MVWA) is responsible for replacing their portion of the lead service line, which runs front the main in the center of the road to the curb. I've been told by the Director of Water Quality that it is MVWA's policy to replace their part of the lead line only after the residential line is replaced.
Obviously to replace their portion, the utility must dig up the streets. The city has complained for many years about the way MVWA disrupts and then repairs the pavement. For such a large infrastructure project it is imperative that the city and MVWA must work in sync . Otherwise it will be an enormous waste of tax dollars. Currently, streets are being paved on streets where lead service lines are present. They will have to be dug up again to replace the lead pipes that were not removed. Then of course they will have to be paved over again. What a waste and so unnecessary.
It is particularly egregious and potentially very costly now that a referendum was passed that requires $5 million dollars be spent annually on paving city streets.
We also need to act quickly due to the presence of inflation in 2021and beyond. You may have noticed the steep rise in prices when you make a trip to the grocery store. The same thing is happening in the construction industry . The cost of materials are going through the roof with no end in sight. The cost of labor is rising as well.
Making matters worse and adding to the cost of construction are the well publicized supply chain problems. You may not be able to get what you want nor when you need it. Therefore, the supply chain problems will likely cause an increase in the costs of projects. Certainly, projects will be well behind schedule.
Yet another reason to start replacing lead service lines immediately in order to avoid costly delays.
We can add one other reason to act quickly . Wouldn't the advertising of lead free water be a good way to promote the area . Maybe it would entice some new residents and businesses. Might be good for tourism as well.
Generations of lead poisoned individuals are testament to why the solution to this problem will not be from the top down . In order to achieve our goal this must be a grass roots environmental justice fight that puts pressure on our public officials to do the right thing and to start the process of the removal of all lead service lines immediately. Join Us & Take Action .