SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – South Dakota received $426,000 from the federal government to help remove lead from drinking water in schools and childcare facilities through President Joe Biden’s Investing in America plan.
Entities that remove sources of lead from drinking water can now apply for funding through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The money comes from the Environmental Protection Agency and would go toward lead testing and the removal and replacement of lead pipes, connectors, faucets, water fountains and water-filler stations.
One of the dangers of lead is that people cannot see, taste or smell it in drinking water. Exposure to lead, especially for children, can be very dangerous and cause nervous system failure, abnormal pain and brain fogginess.
“Ensuring that our children and our most vulnerable communities have access to clean drinking water is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and EPA. These additional funds will expand on existing lead remediation programs and help to improve public health in South Dakota,” said EPA Mountains and Plains Regional Administrator KC Becker.
Drinking water that comes from a water treatment plant does not contain lead, however, water can absorb lead through the pipes on the way to a faucet. The federal government banned the use of lead pipes in homes and buildings in 1986, but some places still need to replace the plumbing.
According to the EPA’s regulation, “Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water,” all pipes must have less than .2 percent lead detected.
“No person may use any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder or any flux that is not lead free in the installation or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a residential or nonresidential facility providing water for human consumption,” the regulation reads.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources has set up a survey for people to test if there is lead in their pipes at home. The South Dakota Lead Service Line Inventory Survey takes five minutes and all people need to fill out the survey on their own is a coin, smartphone and magnet.
President Biden began the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan in 2021 to remove lead from homes and schools as a part of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. At that time, 400,000 schools and 24 million housing units were at risk for lead exposure through their water.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, South Dakota still had 10,000 lead service lines.
“All families, children and Americans should be able to turn on the faucet at home or school and drink clean water — including in low-income communities and communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by dangerous lead pipes – while we also create good paying jobs remediating lead paint in homes,” a news release during the launch of the initiative said.