It’s past time to replace Peoria’s lead water pipes. Now there’s money to do it

https://ift.tt/3cyJId3

For years, we’ve heard that lead pipes are dangerous and must be replaced. We’ve heard that we cannot wait another day because the health of our residents, particularly our children, is at risk. Despite this urgency, has any progress been made towards replacement? Will we ever rid our community of this threat?

Finally, there is hope that we can actually replace the lead pipes here in Peoria and across the country. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda presents a historic opportunity to set right decades of wrongs. This legislative package would provide billions of dollars in necessary funds to replace lead pipes across the country.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was signed into law by President Biden, includes $15 billion for lead service line replacement. This is certainly cause for celebration, but Congress also must pass the Build Back Better bill, which passed the House on Friday and now heads to the Senate where it is certain to undergo many rounds of debate.

The Build Back Better bill contains an additional $10 billion for lead service line replacement. This funding will be critical to ensure that our state can deliver on its promise to provide safe, lead-free drinking water for all Illinoisans, a promise we made by enacting the Illinois Lead Service Line Notification and Replacement Act earlier this year.

‘Life of Linda’: Why the White House picked Peoria for Biden’s Build Back Better plan

I was proud to support this legislation, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Pritzker this summer. State legislators demonstrated a shared commitment to bringing clean drinking water to everyone in the state and a clear understanding of the health and safety risks posed by Illinois’ hundreds of thousands of lead pipes, including the potential to cause irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and more.

While this bill was an important step toward lead service line replacement in Illinois, it didn’t provide the funds to do so – and that’s why the Build Back Better agenda is so crucial.

Illinois has more lead service lines than any state in the country. Here in Peoria, 17% of our water service lines – more than 10,500 lines – contain lead, and communities in Pekin, East Peoria, and Peoria Heights also face the threat of contamination. This is unacceptable, and if unaddressed, will have a demonstrable impact on the next generation of Illinoisans, as our children’s still-developing brains are at great risk from lead poisoning.

Addressing the threats that lead service lines pose to all of us will also help confront the environmental racism present in infrastructure policy decisions of years past. Black and Latino residents in Illinois are twice as likely to live in communities with lead service lines than white residents – a reality we must address immediately. From Flint, Michigan to across our state, we’ve seen what happens to health outcomes in communities of color around the country when the legacies of environmental racism aren’t addressed.

Removing lead service lines could address another critical issue as well – the violence plaguing our communities. Increasingly, studies have found a link between lead poisoning and rates of violent crime because lead poisoning can affect parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and impulse control. It’s no surprise that Peoria and Chicago, which have some of the highest rates of lead pipes, also have some of the highest rates of violence.

More: Police say Peoria violence is from ‘hybrid street gangs.’ Here’s what they mean

And replacing these pipes will bring with it significant economic investment. The Build Back Better agenda will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Illinois, including good-paying, union jobs. Replacing all of our state’s lead service lines could create up to 224,500 jobs and generate $23 billion in additional economic activity – the post-pandemic boost our families and local economies need.

It’s time for Congress to put partisanship aside and act in the interests of every person, child, and family in Peoria, Illinois, and our country. Pass the entire Build Back Better agenda, and pass it now, so that every parent knows their child is safe from lead contamination.

Jehan Gordon-Booth represents the 92nd district in the Illinois House of Representatives

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: It’s past time to replace Peoria’s lead water pipes: Opinion

via Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos

November 20, 2021 at 07:36AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s