VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE)– Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced his strategy this week to invest $4 million in finding, removing, and replacing dangerous lead pipes in communities around the state.

The H2Ohio Lead Service Line Repair Grant Program will give roughly $2 million to six towns with lead pipes that have been mapped and are ready for replacement. Nearly 500 lead service lines will be removed and replaced in these neighborhoods.

The remaining $2 million in grant money will be provided to assist public water systems who lack the financial resources to adequately assess where their lead service lines are located in identifying, inventorying, and mapping lead service lines. This funding comprises $1.4 million in mini-grants of up to $50,000 for individual public water systems and $600,000 for the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) and the Ohio Rural Water Association (ORWA) to help small public water systems with direct identification and mapping.

The City of Delphos received $500,000 from the H2Ohio grant to remove and replace old lead water pipes.

“We want all of our residents, no matter where they live, to be confident that their drinking water is clean and not contaminated by decomposing lead pipes that should have long ago been replaced,” said Governor DeWine. “My focus every day is on the health and safety of all of our citizens, and I won’t be satisfied until lead pipes are truly a thing of the past.”

The majority of water service lines are now copper or galvanized iron, however there are still an estimated 6.1 million lead water lines across the country. When lead-containing elements in water distribution networks and domestic plumbing corrode, lead enters the water supply. Lead contamination can lead to development problems in children, including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems. 

“Addressing lead service lines is not only a key goal under the H2Ohio initiative, but it’s also part of the Governor’s overall commitment to the health and well-being in communities,” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson, whose office is administering the grant program. “By giving communities this help to create true and accurate maps of lead lines in their communities, they’ll be better prepared to launch replacement projects of their own.”

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA will begin accepting applications for the $50,000 mini-grants beginning on March 28. The agency will also be hosting a webinar to answer questions from communities on this mini-grant program at 2 p.m. on March 17, 2022. Register here.