U.S. Senator Michael Bennett is leading the charge to push for legislation to curb Americans’ exposure to lead — from the water pipes used in their homes.

On Thursday, Democratic lawmakers from Colorado are set to introduce a bill that would try to soften the financial blow homeowners face when they take steps to replace their privately owned lead water pipes, or service lines. .

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The nation faced the reality of toxic metal dangers when, in early 2014, Flint, Mich. The residents had to cope with this through water supply. But, Coloradans are not immune to health risks.

Public facilities — which provide electricity, gas and, in this case, water to the population — are in the process of replacing publicly owned lead service lines across the country. Denver Water, Colorado’s oldest and largest water utility, is doing just that with it. Lead Reduction ProgramWhich started in January 2020.

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The agency provides lead-free water to 1.5 million people in the Mile High City and surrounding areas, but it can become contaminated when it passes through lead-containing household fixtures, plumbing and service lines.

According to Bennett’s office, Denver Water is “financing the removal of all public and private lead service lines in its service area at no cost to our customers by issuing tax-exempt bonds.” Tax-exempt bonds is a means typically used by state and local governments to fund public projects.

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Bennett’s office said the Internal Revenue Service has slowed Denver Water’s efforts, though, with a costly and time-consuming analysis of its service area as part of the “private business use test,” which taxes Required to qualify for exemption.

The proposed solution lies in changing the country’s tax code. The measure would ensure that bonds issued by public water utilities are exempt from the tax if the utility is replacing privately owned lead service lines to comply with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for lead.

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“Coloradians deserve to know that the water they and their children drink is safe,” Bennett said. “This legislation will not only help cut down on red tape, but also alleviate some of the financial burden that homeowners typically face when replacing their lead pipes. We are excited by Denver Water’s experiences.” Must learn and use innovative financing to help completely eliminate lead pipes in their communities.

Denver Water’s system has about 64,000 to 84,000 lead service lines – all of which are privately owned, CEO Jim Lochhead said. The agency agreed to remove the lines over a 15-year period, with the program currently in year 3.

Denver Water is committed to removing about 4,500 lines annually, he said. “This is a public health issue that needs to be addressed.”

Lochhead called Bennett’s bill “highly beneficial” because this particular type of bond is typically designed for transit projects, stadiums, airports and other uses. “It really gives us and other utilities around the country additional flexibility to address this issue more affordably.”

The U.S. government banned the use of lead pipes in public water systems in 1986, but homes built before 1951 are more likely to have such lines, according to Denver Water. Residents of the Mile High City and surrounding areas can explore the possibility of a lead service line connecting to their property. Interactive map of the agency.

Keith McLaughlin, executive director of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, supported Bennett’s bill, calling it “a common-sense policy” that helps ensure all communities in Colorado have clean and safe drinking water. Access to water, especially our disadvantaged communities who are disproportionately exposed. Leadership.”

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