ARP funds flow to lead pipe project
91 West Side homes to see water quality improvement
YOUNGSTOWN — A $1.6 million project to replace lead pipelines at 91 houses on the city’s West Side will go a long way toward improving the quality of life in that area, said Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s a moral imperative that no child and no family should have to drink water” that comes from lead pipes, Regan said during a Tuesday visit to the city.
The project on the West Side — on and near Eddie and Roy streets and Hazelwood Avenue — is scheduled to start in July and expected to take about 60 to 90 days to complete, said Harry L. Johnson III, the city’s water commissioner.
The project will replace 5,840 feet of waterlines in the neighborhood.
Among those getting new waterlines is Bill Kuhley, an Eddie Street resident.
“There’s a lot of lead in this neighborhood,” he said after a discussion with Regan and various elected officials. “I’m definitely excited to get rid of the old and start new.”
The money is coming from the city’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act. City council is expected to vote on the allocation at its May 18 meeting, Johnson said.
Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said the investment in “lead line replacement is truly needed to ensure that our future generation is healthy and strong. This impact will affect families who may have underlying health issues.”
Ohio also is receiving $71 million this year to replace lead pipes from the federal infrastructure law, approved in November by Congress,with more funding during the next four years, Regan said.
“I’ve spoken to countless parents who worry about the safety of the water flowing through their taps — the water that their children drink,” Regan said.
There are about 6 million to 10 million lead service lines in use in the country, he said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, who was with Regan on Tuesday, said Ohio has 680,000 water pipes with lead.
“When you think about safe drinking water, you shouldn’t have to live in an expensive suburb to have clean, safe drinking water,” Brown said.
Regan said: “The science is clear: there is no safe level of lead in our drinking water. Not for anyone, but especially for our children. The tragedy of lead exposure is shared by too many communities across the country, especially in Black and brown communities.”
Regan said a study shows that black children living at or below the poverty level in the United States are four times more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
“Exposure to lead can lead to severe mental and physical development,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, who also was with Regan on Tuesday, said: “We cannot expect to compete with the rest of the world when our kids are being poisoned by the water they drink at home and in their schools.”