How Much Will it Cost to Replace All Lead Water Pipes in the U.S.?

iStock.com/carterdayne

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The initial price is high, but the public health and economic benefits outweigh the costs in the long run, according to research by the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution.

The American Jobs Plan includes $45 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines across the U.S., and according to research by the Brookings Institution, that should be enough to cover the costs.

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation based on EPA’s estimate of average replacement cost per line ($4,700) and assumption of 6 to 10 million lead service lines across the country suggests the cost could range from $28 billion to $47 billion, putting (President) Biden’s $45 billion near the top of that range,” wrote the report’s authors, David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, and research assistant Sophia Cambell.

Despite the high cost, the researchers reference a 1987 Environmental Protection Agency cost-benefit analysis of reducing the amount of lead permitted in drinking water by 60%, which found that the benefits of reduced exposure outweighed the costs of the policy by about four to one, even without accounting for a number of health benefits that were difficult for the EPA to monetize.

The Brookings report also references a 2019 Minnesota cost-benefit analysis for removing lead from all drinking water in the state. The analysis estimates that the pipe removal would cost $1.5 billion to $4.1 billion over 20 years but the benefits—including “mental acuity and IQ” improvements and the “resulting increases in lifetime productivity, earnings and taxes paid”—would range from $4.2 billion to $8.5 billion.

In addition, the report cites the Environmental Defense Fund’s estimate that each full lead service line replaced would yield $22,000 in societal benefits from reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease alone, or a return of more than $3 per dollar invested.

It is stated the only permanent and 100% effective solution to remove lead from water is a full lead service line replacement. In addition to the expensive, the report discusses the challenges that lay ahead if a plan to remove lead pipes were put in place. 

For example, the paper mentions Madison, Wisconsin’s success in replacing all lead service lines in 2001. The project removed 8,000 pipes and took 11 years at the cost of $15.5 million. However, the city received significant pushback from homeowners and approval for the initiative from regulators and lawmakers took years.

To help solve the cost issue for private customers, the paper refers to state and local governments offering grants and forgivable loans for pipe replacement. Also, governments can loosen restrictions to allow water utilities to raise rates to fund improvements to private portions of service lines. 

Water pollution is a leading environmental concern among Americans, polls indicate, and serious issues surrounding lead-contaminated water continue to plague state and local governments.

To see more details about the research click here

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Rural Town of Edinburgh, IN improves water operations by reducing manual operations
Edinburgh, IN 46124, USA
Green Infrastructure acts as a bridge for Indigenous reconciliation in Vancouver, BC
W 63rd Ave & Yukon St, Vancouver, BC V5X 2J2, Canada
Integrated city systems, unified data, & automation drive 316% increase in field efficiency
Seattle, WA, USA

NEXT STORY: Pandemic-stricken Mass Transit Would Get $85 billion In Biden Stimulus Plan – a Down Payment on Reviving American Cities

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.