YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Just about every home in one West Side Youngstown neighborhood pre-dates World War II.
One problem with that is that many of the homes, if not all of them, have lead water lines.
“We have more of these lead pipes, lead-contaminated pipes, than any state in the country but Illinois,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
Washington is now pushing to use billions from the recently passed federal Infrastructure bill to replace those lines.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan was in the Valley Tuesday morning, calling it a priority.
“I’ve spoken to countless parents who worry about the safety of the water flowing through their taps, the water that their children drink,” Regan said.
Starting this summer, the city will begin replacing water mains in the neighborhood off Vestal Road as well as the lines leading to people’s homes, if they request it.
Neighbor Bill Kuhley has lived here for the last 20 years and says his son’s home next door was built in the 1920s.
“I’m gonna get a water test done at his house now, just to see what’s in it, and then once everything’s done, I’m gonna test it again to see how purified it became,” he said.
The first step in addressing the problem with lead pipes will be to determine which neighborhoods need the most help.
Officials say this area was chosen to be first because of the age of the homes and figures for infant mortality.
Mayor Tito Brown hopes to use some of its share of American Rescue Plan funds to bring in more money from the feds.
“We’re trying to figure what that number looks like. I think this is gonna help us continue to help grow the number of families that we can further impact,” Brown said.
Mike Diana, who has lived in the area all of his life, said he’s just glad to see work being done on his aging neighborhood.
“‘Cause that gives people more of a reason to stay, because Youngstown as a whole is starting to slowly just digress,” he said.
Work could begin this July.