DENVER — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet played a key role among Senate Democrats in introducing the Financing Lead Out of Water (FLOW) Act that would make it easier for public utilities and cities to finance the removal and replacement of all lead service lines (LSL).
“Coloradans deserve to know the water they and their children drink is safe,” said Bennet. “This legislation would not only help cut through red tape, but alleviate some of the financial burden that homeowners typically face when replacing their lead pipes.”
Between 6 to 10 million homes in the U.S. currently have lead water pipes, also known as LSLs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). LSLs connect main water lines located underground to the internal plumbing systems of homes. Public utilities across the country are replacing publicly-owned LSLs; however, replacement projects have moved slowly for privately-owned pipes that serve homes due to the costly financial responsibility of replacing these lines.
The FLOW Act allows public water utilities to issue tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the removal and replacement of both publicly and privately owned LSLs. This bill also helps accrue funds for lead pipe replacement from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Bennet’s FLOW Act draws on the experience of Denver Water, a public water utility that is financing the removal of all public and private LSLs at no cost to its customers. Denver Water found that issuing tax-exempt bonds required a costly and time-consuming analysis of its service area as part of the ‘private business use test’ administered by the IRS to qualify for the tax exemption, adding months to its effort. The FLOW Act aims to provide a solution to this issue for public water utilities.
“We should learn from the experiences of Denver Water and use innovative financing to help eliminate lead pipes completely across our communities,” said Bennett.