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On the Heels of the Flint Water Crisis, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Introduction of “True LEADership Act” to Remove Lead from Pipes and Invest More in America’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure

Reforms championed by Senator Baldwin invest in modern water tech, require American-made infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today joined U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and several Senate Democrats in introducing the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016, or True LEADership Act (S.2821), a comprehensive plan that recommits the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Incidents like the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, underscore the dangers that can result when the safety of our drinking water and state of our water infrastructure is not made a priority. The True LEADership Act will have nationwide reach, addressing the scourge of lead-laden water and housing across the country. It also will improve our nation’s water infrastructure, while creating thousands of new jobs.

“Communities across the United States are facing serious challenges in protecting their water supplies to keep families and their children safe,” said Senator Baldwin. “The historic failure seen in Flint should serve as a call to act quickly and comprehensively to invest in better solutions to confront water problems throughout the country by building a modern, made in America water infrastructure.”  

“We urgently need to minimize the risks to our communities and our children. Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods – in every community in America – all rely on safe, clean water. Our health and our livelihoods will continue to be in danger if we do not act swiftly and decisively,” said Senator Cardin. “We can and must immediately do more as a country to better protect our waters and our kids, and the True LEADership Act will help us do exactly that.”  

Senator Baldwin championed two major reforms in the True LEADership Act:

  • Accelerate water technologies: Senator Baldwin’s reform would accelerate the deployment of water technologies that could address all types of water problems. While there are many companies that are developing these technologies, there is no functioning market for their deployment. The reform would create a federal role for accelerating the testing, deployment and encouraging the commercialization of technologies, including sensors in pipes to report when water is unsafe, innovative treatment systems for livestock waste, green infrastructure, and updated stream gauges, etc. which can help reduce the costs of variety of water problems, such as upgrading water infrastructure and treating manure that runs into surface waters. 
  • Require 100 percent American-made, taxpayer-produced iron and steel in public drinking water systems: Senator Baldwin’s reform would require that the iron and steel used in our public drinking water systems is American-made. This ensures that the water our children drink is carried through high-quality pipes manufactured right here in the United States, not in a foreign country with lower quality controls.

Additional reforms included in the True LEADership Act include:

  • Increasing investments in our water infrastructure, particularly through a new grant program specifically designed for projects that reduce lead in tap water
  • Establishing a mandatory, nationwide requirement for states to report elevated levels of lead in children
  • Establishing mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems
  • Key reforms to HUD authorities and a new tax credit for homeowners to remove lead
  • A new grant program for schools to aid children with the effects of lead poisoning

This new legislation, through a combination of loans, grants and tax credits, would inject over $70 billion over the next 10 years into water infrastructure and lead relief programs. For every public dollar we invest in upgrading our water infrastructure, our GDP grows by more than $6.

Original co-sponsors of the True LEADership Act include U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Gary Peters (D-MI).