Brown, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

The FLOW Act Makes it Easier for Local Communities to Fund Public and Private Lead Pipe Removal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 23, 2022 – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Financing Lead Out of Water (FLOW) Act. The FLOW Act would reduce exposure to lead in old water pipes by making it easier for cities and utilities to issue bonds to finance replacement projects.

“Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the water coming out of the faucet is safe for their children to drink,” said Brown. “Because of the work we did in the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, Ohio communities will be able to replace old pipes, using American-made materials and installed by American workers, and the FLOW Act will ensure that these investments reach even more Ohioans.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between 6 to 10 million homes in the U.S. currently have lead water pipes, also known as lead service lines, that connect the main water line to their home’s internal plumbing system. Although public utilities across the country are replacing their publicly-owned lead service lines, replacement projects have moved slowly for privately-owned pipes that serve residences due to the cost of replacing these lines.

The FLOW Act provides an explicit guarantee in the tax code to allow public-water utilities to issue tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the removal and replacement of both the publicly- and privately-owned lead service lines, resolving the full scale of the issue for residents in areas with lead pipes. This bill also helps funds for lead pipe replacement from the American Rescue Plan and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, both of which Brown helped to write and pass, make a deeper impact on replacing the nation’s essential water infrastructure.

The bill text is available HERE. A one-page summary of the bill is available HERE.