Clean Water Advocates Applaud Gov. Hochul for Signing the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act

Bill will make it easier for New Yorkers to find out if a lead pipe is contaminating their drinking water

Albany, NY – Today, Governor Hochul took a major step to get the lead out of New York’s drinking water by signing the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act (A.6115/S.5112). Sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin and Senator Gustavo Rivera, the bill will make it easier for New Yorkers to find out if they have a lead pipe contaminating the drinking water in their home. It also gives policymakers more information about the scale of the threat to public health across the state. This greater transparency will help direct resources more effectively towards the replacement of all of New York’s lead pipes.

The Governor’s action builds on a recent proposal by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring water utilities to replace 100% of the nation’s lead pipes over 10 years, beginning in 2027. EPA estimates that there are 494,000 lead pipes still delivering drinking water across New York State, the 6th highest total in the nation. There is no safe level of lead exposure, with harmful health effects including developmental delays and hearing and speech problems.

All water utilities are currently creating inventories to determine how many lead pipes are in their service areas; these inventories must be submitted to EPA and the NYS Department of Health by October 2024. This bill will require that water utilities follow DOH guidance for how to create those inventories and that all inventories are posted on DOH’s website for the public to access. The bill also requires DOH to create interactive maps of many utilities’ inventories, enabling New Yorkers to better understand the risk from lead pipes in their wider community.

“I am grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing my Lead Pipe Right to Know Act into law, and cementing New York’s position as a leader in enacting progressive climate change legislation. This law will take stock of our state’s water pipeline infrastructure and ensure access to clean water to New Yorkers across the State. We must combat environmental injustice and with this law, we will keep our communities healthy and safe,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee.

“Lead poisoning is an urgent public health issue, and it disproportionately affects children in low-income and marginalized families. The Lead Pipes Right to Know Act will help make childhood lead exposure a thing of the past. I thank Governor Hochul for taking this step to protect New York’s children,” said Assemblymember and Health Chair, Amy Paulin.

Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, RPh said, “Thank you to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the ‘Lead Pipe Right to Know Act’ into law and to all who have advocated to move this important legislation forward. As a former mayor and long-time advocate for clean water infrastructure funding in NYS Budgets, I know how important this issue is and how awareness and remediation are vital to ensuring the public’s health.”

Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water with Environmental Advocates NY, said, “The Governor’s approval of the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act is a tremendous win for all New Yorkers, especially those who live with the daily dangers of lead exposure. The science is clear: we need to get the lead out of drinking water. This bill will accelerate New York’s efforts to achieve 100% lead pipe replacement by making data on the scale and extent of this problem easily accessible to the public and policymakers. We thank the Governor for her commitment to protecting clean water and the bill sponsors for championing the cause of lead poisoning prevention.” 

Julie Tighe, President of New York League of Conservation Voters said, “For far too long, lead pipes delivering drinking water to our homes have been a clear and present danger. The Lead Pipe Right to Know Bill is an important step to solving this problem. Knowing how many lead pipes are out there and where they are will allow us to have an informed conversation about the resources needed for the labor and materials to remove them once and for all.  We salute Governor Hochul for working with Senator Rivera, and Assemblymember Paulin on an important bill that will shine a light on this critical issue.” 

Greg Campbell-Cohen, Managing Officer of TIMBER, said, “We are very grateful to Governor Hochul, Senator Rivera, Assemblymember Paulin and Assemblymember McDonald for taking major strides toward understanding lead poisoning in cities like Troy. We cannot begin to solve a public health problem if we don’t know where it is. Cities will need state support to get their lead service line replacement programs up and running, and we look forward to collaborating more with Governor Hochul and our elected representatives to get communities like ours more help in the upcoming budget.”

Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean+Healthy and co-leader of Lead Free Kids NY said, “Thank you, Governor Hochul, for helping New York’s residents and municipalities know where lead is present and may be threatening their drinking water. This is an important step in the effort to ensure that our water systems no longer rely on a heart-damaging and neurotoxic chemical. Everyone should be able to turn on their tap and be confident that the water they’re drinking is clean and healthy. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislature in 2024 to continue advancing solutions that ensure lead poisoning becomes a thing of the past for New Yorkers.”

“As a mother in Troy, I am thrilled to hear that the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act has been signed into law. This act will provide life-changing information to other parents and residents, as there is no safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Thank you Governor Hochul for taking this step toward providing safe, clean drinking water to all residents of New York,” said Jona Favreau

Jill Ryan, Executive Director of Freshwater Future, said, “We are pleased to see this bill make it across the finish line at this critical time. The Lead Pipe Right to Know Act will provide the information families need to stay safe as we venture to replace all lead service lines. Thank you to Governor Hochul, Senator Rivera, Assemblymember Paulin and Assemblymember McDonald for helping New York take another step towards a lead free future – We hope to continue to work together to make lead in drinking water a thing of the past.”

“Governor Hochul’s signature on the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act will increase transparency so that New Yorkers will no longer be kept in the dark as to whether the water they’re drinking comes from a lead service line,” said Joan Leary Matthews, Senior Attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Generations of children will not achieve their full potential because they have been poisoned with lead, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Lead poisoning is an urgent public health issue and hundreds of thousands of lead pipes across the state need replacing.”

“With lead service lines as the number one source of lead exposure from drinking water, identifying and mapping where this infrastructure remains is a key step towards replacement and protecting public health,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate with Earthjustice. “Earthjustice applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Lead Service Line Right to Know Act, which will ensure all New Yorkers know whether or not they are served by a lead service line, providing them with important information to take steps to protect themselves and their families. We thank Senator Rivera, Assemblymember Paulin, our partner organizations, and the many tireless community advocates for getting this policy across the finish line and look forward to working alongside them to fight for further action in reducing lead exposure.”