(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson today announced approximately $2.4 million in H2Ohio grant assistance to help 53 public water systems take the first step toward removing and replacing lead water pipes.
“Working with communities to help them identify and remove lead water lines that remain in their area will improve the overall health and well-being of Ohioans,” said Governor DeWine. “These H2Ohio grants confirm our ongoing commitment to improve our state’s water infrastructure for the long term.”
“Water plays a vital role water in our daily lives, and these mini grants will help communities take the first step toward safer water, ” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson.
The 53 lead pipe mapping projects will take place in communities in 37 counties. All applicants are receiving their full funding request of up to $50,000.
Today, most water service lines are copper or galvanized iron, but an estimated 6.1 million lead water lines remain across the nation. Lead primarily enters drinking water when materials containing lead in water distribution systems and household plumbing corrode.
Lead-based paint and its dust are the most common source of lead poisoning, but lead in drinking water can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure. While lead poisoning can affect individuals of all ages, children are at greatest risk. Children’s bodies absorb lead more efficiently than adults, and they are less able than adults to detoxify their bodies of lead.
As part of the H2Ohio initiative, Ohio EPA has previously awarded six communities with almost $2.2 million in H2Ohio funding to remove and replace a total of nearly 500 lead service lines, and $2.1 million to 48 communities for lead line identification and mapping assistance. An additional $1.25 million in H2Ohio funding was used for lead service line replacement projects at childcare facilities in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Since taking office in 2019, Governor DeWine has been steadfast in his commitment to address the consequences of lead poisoning and to increase lead abatement. Working with the legislature, he expanded early intervention services to include children with elevated blood lead levels. He also formed a Lead Advisory Committee to help lead the state’s efforts to abate and remediate lead contamination and offered more than $44 million in grants for the identification and elimination of lead paint in Ohio homes.
Other lead-related actions include lead abatements to low-income and middle-class families who own contaminated homes; the creation of a repayment program for abatement workers and contractors who earn licenses; strengthened enforcement of lead hazard control orders; and a public awareness campaign for the new Lead-Safe Housing Registry.
Governor DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio was launched with support from the Ohio General Assembly, which invested in the program in Ohio’s two most recent operating budgets. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.