United States Representative Katherine Clark was joined by Mayor Gary Christenson and Malden City Council President Neal Anderson to tour the site of a lead service line replacement project. The Congresswoman has worked to assist Malden in addressing the replacement of lead service lines by moving forward with a $3.36 million Community Project Funding (CPF) request which was included in the House Appropriations Committee budget for the 2022 fiscal year.
The City of Malden has approximately 3,200 lead service lines and is under a consent decree issued from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to replace 150 lines per year. The city has consistently exceeded this requirement with a primary goal being to expedite the elimination of all lead service lines in the shortest possible amount of time. A consistent obstacle to this goal is the dual ownership of water service lines; where the city owns the line from the water main to the curb, and the property owner owns the rest of the line that travels under their private property. The cost of replacing the private side has traditionally fallen on property owners.
A lack of owner-initiated lead service line replacements in the past few years suggests that, like many other Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, residents lack the income or capital needed to pay for the replacement. “We are grateful to Congresswoman Clark for her support of the $3.36 million CPF request,” said Mayor Christenson. “The requested funding will allow for the replacement of both the public and private sides of service lines and remove a significant health hazard for low-income residents who cannot afford the cost.” This would be a major step toward bridging the equity gap that persists for EJ populations when it comes to reducing sources of lead exposure.
During the visit, Rep. Clark was able to speak with City Engineer, Yem Lip; Senior Engineer, Glen Calla; Superintendent of the Water Department, John DeSantis and contractors from Moriarty & Sons who were on site to explain the lead replacement process. The Mayor’s Office has been working closely with Clark’s office to submit the funding request along with support from the City Council and organizations such as Clean Water Fund and Malden Community Organizing for Racial Equity (MaldenCORE).