ALBANY, N.Y. (News10)-Outdated infrastructure is a major concern in the Capital Region and that includes efforts to replace old lead service lines that can contaminate public drinking water. Leaders in several area communities are asking for funding to help with this massive and costly task.

At the New York State Capitol, officials were demanding to “get the lead out”. Mayors like Schenectady’s Gary McCarthy are calling for this year’s state budget to include 50-million dollars, earmarked for the state department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program or LSLRP. “We want to make sure that our communities are competitive. That they are safe,” said McCarthy.

The program replacing dangerous lead services lines that can contaminate drinking water is funded through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act initiative. According to Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, New York State has allocated 4.5 billion for the initiative since 2018, but that only 30 million of these funds have actually gone to the Lead Service Line Replacement Program. “So hopefully that message gets to the governor’s office that we need a specific dedicated fund for these projects. To put New York on a path to replace these lead lines 100-percent,” said Santabarbara.

A major concern are water lines connecting curbside lines to private residences. Under EPA law all municipalities must report what private services lines are made of by October of 2024. In the city of Troy for example that’s 13,000 properties. News10’s Anya Tucker asked Chris Wheland, superintendent for public utilities in Troy about current testing of lead in water. “Out of all the tests that you’ve done so far, how many have come back positive?” she asked. Wheland responded, “I would say 90-percent have come back positive.” He added, “It’s not just a lead service line. There’s lead solder. There’s lead in the brass fixtures.”

The city is currently working on a 7-to-10-year plan to replace old lead pipes and asking property owners to have their water tested. If the pipes leading in and out of their homes come back positive for lead, they may qualify for the replacement pipes-free of charge.

In the meantime, Wheland suggests running your water for 3 minutes before taking a drink if it has been sitting for 6 or more hours. That way the water will be coming straight from the water main. He says, over a 90-day quarter billing period, running the tap should only add up to about $5 extra to your water bill.