Poughkeepsie eligible for $3.2 million for lead pipe replacement

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New York Construction Report staff writer

The City of Poughkeepsie is eligible for $3.2 million in grants and more than $8 million in interest-free loans to start lead service line replacement projects. The city competed with larger New York municipalities for $130 million in federal funds awarded projects that will improve the quality of drinking water statewide.

Funding is for construction, including materials, equipment, workforce; engineering fees for planning, design and construction; legal fees; municipal administration fees; and for site/property restoration.

The city has decided to use the best practices model of replacing the whole line, from the water main to the residence, while some municipalities only pay for the portion running from the water main to the curb, leaving private property owners to pay for the rest of the project and running the risk that the project does not get fully completed.

The city has about 5,080 residential lead water service lines to be replaced at an estimated cost of more than $100 million. While lead in drinking water does not come from the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Plant, it can enter the water by corrosion of lead in the service line and household plumbing in homes built before 1986.

“We know we can’t fix this problem overnight, but the city is moving aggressively to obtain funds to replace these lead pipes, and I thank our city staff, especially our Finance and Engineering Departments, for doing the hard work of compiling data and completing these applications to move us in the right direction,” said Mayor Yvonne Flowers.

Phase one will start with an inventory taking place in 2024-2025, required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule. It is expected to be entirely funded with $2 million of this grant award.

In 1997 the city started treatment to substantially reduce corrosion in lead pipes. Ninety percent of the customers tested in 2022 had a lead content of the city’s water of 1.8 parts per billion. The highest test result was 8.4 parts per billion, which is below the 15 parts per billion threshold set by the EPA.

To date, Poughkeepsie has received about $544,000 and completed 23 projects involving day care facilities and residences where young children and immune system compromised residents live. You can read more about those projects here.

“I want to thank Congressman Pat Ryan for inviting state and federal Environmental Protection Agency representatives and state Health Department officials to meet with us to discuss funding sources and what is needed to be eligible for lead pipe replacement grants,” Mayor Flowers said. “We recognize the significant costs it will take to replace all lead service lines in our city, and we will explore all grant opportunities to help reduce the cost burden on our city residents.”

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