Vice President Harris visits Pittsburgh, talks lead contaminating water


Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about infrastructure spending while visiting the Community Empowerment Association on Kelly Street in Homewood on Friday.

By Allison Radziwon, Assistant News Editor

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Pittsburgh on Friday to discuss lead water lines throughout the city, as well as the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure plan aiming to address the issue. Harris, along with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, spoke at the Community Empowerment Association in Homewood. 

The Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, a part of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, includes $3 billion from the overall plan allocated by the EPA to states, tribes and territories to replace lead lines. Through this plan the EPA will also launch a new regulatory process “to protect communities” from lead poisoning, according to the White House website. The website also said the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund can be used for lead service lines as well as fixture and faucet replacements. 

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority began replacing lead water pipes in 2016 after detecting high levels of lead in the water. PWSA is currently replacing lines in North and South Oakland, as well as Elliot. Service lines will also be replaced in Central Oakland, Point Breeze, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Highland Park. 

Harris said the effort to replace these water pipes and provide clean water to millions of Americans is due to advocacy for clean water in Pittsburgh and other cities. 

“In large part, the work that we are doing is in response to the advocacy that has been coming out of leaders like the leaders here in Pittsburgh, who have been demanding that we prioritize this as an issue,” Harris said.