Contact: Emily Lyons/(518) 545-7682
ALBANY, NY – The City of Albany’s Water Department (AWD) has launched a new program to aid homeowners in lead service replacements in an effort to have zero lead service pipes in Albany by 2040.
The Lead Service Replacement Program provides a reimbursement of up to $2,000 to assist in the full replacement of a lead service line. All homeowners with lead service lines are eligible for the grant funds – including owners of small multi-unit properties and those who do not reside in the home. For tenants or homeowners who are not able to complete a replacement at this time, AWD is providing free water filters to any household with a water sample that tests high for lead (above 10 Parts Per Billion (PPB)).
To apply, and for full program details, visit albanyny.gov/lead
Mayor Sheehan joined EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Congressman Paul Tonko, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, Albany Water Commissioner Joe Coffey, 5th Ward Councilmember Jahmel Robinson, and other local elected and city officials on August 25 to visit a lead service actively being replaced in Albany’s West Hill Neighborhood.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “I applaud the Albany Water Department and Commissioner Coffey for taking the initiative to work toward creating a lead-free water system for our City by 2040. Across the country, millions of homes still receive drinking water through privately-owned lead services lines, and it is estimated 40% of the homes in Albany fall into this category. What’s worse is the problem has long had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, which is why this program is so vital to helping eliminate these dangerous pipes and ensuring every resident in our city has clean, safe drinking water. Since taking office, my administration has invested more than $60 million in water and sewer infrastructure improvements – a larger investment over the past 7 years than the 20 previous years combined, and this program is yet another example of my administration’s commitment to equitably investing in our City’s infrastructure.”
Congressman Tonko said, “We know there is no safe level of lead. But despite knowing the harmful and lasting impact of this toxin, it remains commonplace in our drinking water systems, often disproportionately harming low-income communities and communities of color. My gratitude to the Albany Water Department for their powerful work to address this issue and remove lead components from our homes. I won’t stop fighting in Congress to deliver federal support for these efforts that ensure our kids and our communities have access to safe, clean water.”
Albany Water Commissioner Joe Coffey said, “The great thing about this program is it provides assistance to anyone – homeowners, landlords, and renters. We realize replacing a lead service can be an expensive proposition for many, however we will do everything we can to work with our customers to find a path to replacement. In the meantime, we are offering the free filter program to guarantee every resident in this City has access to safe drinking water.”
Albany Water Board Chairman Charles Houghton said, “The Board has been committed to finding ways to eventually eliminate the potential for lead in Albany’s drinking water. We are impressed with the steps that Department staff have taken to achieve this goal and we hope residents take advantage of this grant opportunity. We also look forward to evaluating this Program to make sure we are creating lead replacement solutions that work for Albany’s residents.”
Service lines are the privately-owned pipes that connect the City’s water mains to individual homes. In Albany, the service lines are owned by the property owner, and are typically made of lead or copper in homes built before 1940. Lead service lines can pose a significant health risk if the lead pipes start to corrode, allowing lead to enter the resident’s drinking water. The Albany Water Department currently uses corrosion control to prevent lead from entering drinking water, however, the only way to mitigate all possible health risks from lead is to remove lead lines entirely.
None of the water mains or other City-owned pipes are made of lead. As mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health, AWD completes tap water lead testing from a sampling of Albany households every three years to ensure water levels are below the action level for lead and copper. In the latest sampling completed this summer and in previous years, at least 90% of the samples of water supplied to homes are in compliance with the action level for lead and copper.
As mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health, AWD completes tap water lead testing from a sampling of Albany households every three years. In the latest sampling completed this summer and in previous years, AWD was in compliance with at least 90% of samples below the action level for lead and copper.
It is estimated that up to 40% of Albany’s homes have lead service lines, and they are most commonly found in homes built before 1940. Residents can find out if their home has a lead service by performing a simple test.
The cost of a full-service replacement can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the length of the service line and its location. The $2,000 reimbursement is not expected to cover the full cost of replacement but could reduce the total cost by as much as half. The Replacement Program is funded completely by customer’s water and sewer fees, and the costs of the Program were structured into AWD’s budget. The grant reimbursement amount may change in future years as the Program’s effectiveness is evaluated, and as additional State or Federal resources become available.
Low Income homeowners may also quality for additional funds to help cover the costs of a lead service replacement through the Albany Community Development Agency’s Home Improvement Programs.