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Reintroducing Green New Deal Legislation to Remove All Lead Pipes in DC

Today Councilmember Janeese Lewis George and seven other Councilmembers reintroduced the Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC Amendment Act to accelerate the removal of hazardous lead water service lines on public and private land in DC, while also expanding the District’s lead remediation specialist workforce with a new job training program through the Infrastructure Academy.

“We need to move much faster and more aggressively to replace the more than 40,000 lead pipes in DC, which are severely harmful for our children, seniors, and communities as a whole. The Green New Deal for a Lead Free DC will streamline the removal of lead pipes, create a pipeline for good green jobs to drive the transition, and lift barriers to lead pipe replacement for the Black, Brown, and low-income families that are most at risk to lead exposure. This is a racial and environmental justice imperative.”

Councilmember Janeese Lewis George

The District has a goal to replace all lead service lines by 2030, but it will fail to meet that goal without major changes to its current program. The District recently received close to $140 million in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support its efforts to replace lead service lines, but money alone won’t solve the problem. The District needs a better plan. This legislation builds on a report by the District’s Lead Service Line Planning Task Force and a Council-commissioned assessment of DC Water’s Lead Service Line Removal Plan. It is similar to the bill introduced in 2022, but the new legislation includes several revisions, including a new provision requiring DC Water to create an inventory of all water service lines in DC to identify the “unknown” materials — possibly including thousands of additional lead service lines not yet known by DC Water.

Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC Amendment Act of 2023

  • Requires DC Water to create an inventory of all water service lines as a first step to identifying lines made of unknown or misidentified materials that actually contain lead. These lines currently serve tens of thousands of DC residents.
  • Accelerates the removal of hazardous lead water service lines on public and private properties by requiring property owners to participate in a program administered by DC Water, by increasing financial assistance for voluntary removal of lead lines, and by creating a job training program at the DC Infrastructure Academy to grow the District’s lead remediation workforce. 
  • Requires the replacement of lead service lines from District public property and government-owned and government-leased buildings by 2028 — and requires private property owners to replace all lead service lines by 2030.
  • Doubles the grant amount for voluntary remediation compliance to $5,000, and also creates a new income tax credit for lead line replacement regardless of a property owner’s income level for both commercial and residential property owners. Beginning June 2025, all private property owners who still have lead service lines in use on their property will be able to participate in the District’s mandatory replacement program by paying a copayment. 
  • Empowers tenants to hold landlords accountable for program participation and full lead service line replacement in their building by authorizing tenants to file a private right of action. 
  • Expands the lead remediation specialist workforce by requiring the District to train at least 50 new lead remediation specialists in each cohort of a new job training program to be offered through the DC Infrastructure Academy. Capacity is a significant challenge to meeting our ambitious goal of removing all remaining lead service lines by 2030, because there is a limited supply of workers to do this work.
  • Strengthens the District’s job training programs by bringing unions to the table in meeting our workforce development goals. In addition, it closes loopholes in District minimum wage and sick leave laws to ensure all people working in DC are paid fairly and all our on-the-job learners are able to receive paid sick time to care for themselves and ensure healthy workplaces.

The Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC Amendment Act of 2023 is co-introduced by Councilmembers Janeese Lewis George, Charles Allen, Brooke Pinto, Brianne Nadeau, Matt Frumin, Robert White, Christina Henderson, and Zachary Parker.