Maine Refuses Federal Funding for Lead Removal Projects

( – The Biden administration has finally come up with an infrastructure problem that’s actually worth spending money on. It’s offering states billions of dollars to replace old, potentially dangerous, lead water pipes. Maine has turned down the money, though — because it doesn’t know where the pipes are.

As part of 2021’s giant $1 trillion infrastructure spending package — much of which is going to green technology and other dubious projects — the Biden administration also allocated $15 billion to help states locate and remove the estimated 9.2 million lead pipes that are still used to carry water to US homes.

Although that money is now becoming available, not all states are taking up the offer. For example, the State of Washington has accepted just $85,000 out of $63 million it could have had, saying that most people with lead-based water systems didn’t want loans. Dubuque is the only city in Iowa that’s asked for funds.

Now Maine has said it doesn’t want any money at all this year.

Although Maine has known problems with lead contamination in drinking water — including in schools — and was actually one of the first states to ban lead water pipes, state officials say they don’t have any lead replacement projects underway that could actually use the funds.

The problem is that although testing can show lead in the water, it can’t pinpoint what parts of the system that lead is coming from. That doesn’t matter if water utilities have records of where lead was used, but many of them don’t. Now, communities are often reluctant to borrow money to survey water pipes in search of lead ones — especially knowing that, if they find them, they could face disruption as their pipes are dug up and replaced.

Replacing lead pipes is worth doing, though. Children exposed to lead often grow up with behavioral problems or a low IQ. This funding will only be available for five years, and Maine has just missed out on the first year of it.

Copyright 2023,