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American Rescue Plan Funding: A Playbook for Efficiently Getting the Lead Out
Lead is a neurotoxin that continues to harm communities across the country. Though new uses of lead in paint, gasoline, and pipes have been banned for several decades, lead in legacy products and materials remains in communities, posing an ongoing threat to human and economic development. Anywhere from 6 to 10 million residential lead service lines (LSLs), for instance, are still in use nationwide.
Funding included in American Rescue Plan (ARP) grant programs gives cities and states the opportunity to finally eradicate lead contamination in water lines. The steps outlined in this memo (and summarized in the figure below) represent a data-driven approach to rid American communities of the pernicious effects of lead contamination in water systems. This approach builds on research from the University of Michigan and subsequent implementation by BlueConduit in more than 50 cities in the United States and Canada.
- Put together an initial inventory to understand what is known in the water system
- Organize data
- Identify gaps and inconsistencies
- Characterize unknown service lines by random inspection
- Conduct a representative, randomized sample
- Identify home-level likelihoods of lead through statistical modeling
- Request funding for full replacement based on actionable data
- Iteratively update the model with data gleaned from replacement digs
BlueConduit originated the approach of using machine learning to predict lead service line materials and have been doing it longer than anyone else. Our team has been helping local officials and their engineering partners identify and remove lead service lines since 2016.
In 2020, BlueConduit co-authored a white paper with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators on “Principles of Data Science for Service Line Inventory and Replacement.”
We’ve now created our software platform to streamline this process for our utility and engineering partners.
BlueConduit enables utilities to focus their resources on digging where the lead is to accelerate the removal of this significant health concern and save millions of dollars in avoided digs.