Mar 14, 2024 | Press Releases

Nunn Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Safe Drinking Water

DES MOINES — U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Emilia Sykes (OH-13) today introduced new bipartisan legislation today to protect Iowa families from dangerous lead in their home’s drinking water. The bipartisan Safe Drinking Water for Disadvantaged Communities Act will improve current programs that help communities replace lead water pipelines with safer alternatives.  

“Removing lead-lined water lines is essential to safeguarding our communities and families from the irreversible damage caused by toxic-lead exposure,” said Rep. Nunn. “The Safe Water for Disadvantaged Communities Act will make additional funding available to help underprivileged areas make necessary lead pipeline replacements to keep Iowa families safe.” 

After treatment, water should be lead free and safe to drink. Over time, as the water passes through pipes containing lead, the pipes corrode and contaminate the water within. There is more than 9 million lead service lines throughout the country. In Iowa, there are around 160,000 lead service lines statewide. Houses in Des Moines built before 1985 may have lead in the service lines that provide water to homes. Any level of lead in water can cause long-term damage to families, especially children. Even low levels of lead can harm a child’s development by negatively impacting their speech, hearing, and ability to succeed in school.  

“Every American, no matter where they live, should be able to access clean, safe drinking water when they turn on the tap. Yet more than 9.2 million American households connect to water through lead pipes, putting them at risk of dangerous lead exposure,” said Rep. Sykes. “I’m glad to co-lead the Safe Drinking Water for Disadvantaged Communities Act with Rep. Nunn to ensure low-income communities in Ohio’s 13th District and across the country can take full advantage of historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to replace lead pipes and improve our water infrastructure. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will create safer, healthier communities for all.” 

In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized $15 billion to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for the replacement of lead service lines and other related projects under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, 49% of the funds made available to replace lead service lines are provided in the form of 100% forgivable loans or grants for disadvantaged communities. 

“We truly appreciate Congressman Nunn’s efforts to make federal funding for lead service line replacement more accessible to Des Moines and communities across our nation,” said Ted Corrigan, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works. “This legislation will allow utilities such as ours to make money available to help customers who otherwise might not be able to replace their lead water line.” 

“I’m definitely appreciative of the opportunity to be able to get the lead service line replaced because it’s probably not something I would have been able to get done by myself,” said Des Moines resident Valerie Williams, who participated in Des Moines Water Works’ lead service line replacement pilot program. 

The bipartisan Safe Drinking Water for Disadvantaged Communities Act would increase funding available to replace pipelines in disadvantaged communities by requiring all funds made available under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for lead service line replacement projects be provided as 100% forgivable loans or grants. 

Rep. Nunn introduced the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water for Disadvantaged Communities Act in Des Moines with Des Moines Water Works and Valerie Williams, who had her home’s lead service line replaced. Video of the press conference can be found here.  

Text of the bill can be found here