Schumer: Infrastructure bill funds to be used to remove lead pipes in Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The new bipartisan infrastructure bill pushed by President Joe Biden and passed through the Senate last week could mean big changes to Rochester and surrounding areas.

Friday New York Senator and Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer (D) was in Rochester promising to use the money in the deal to make the city’s water completely lead-free.

With hundreds more Rochester children being diagnosed with lead poisoning last year, Sen. Schumer said this legislation would provide the needed money that city officials can tap to complete removals of tens of thousands of lead pipes.

Though, that increase followed the New York State Department of Health lowering the definition of "elevated lead" from 10 to 5 in October of 2019.

He said protecting our children’s health must be the number one priority.

"Even in low doses, it [lead] can decrease cognitive function, developmental delays, behavioural problems," Schumer said. "In high does, it’s severe: Seizures, coma, even death. So we need to remove these lead hazards, but at the current rate of replacement, most of the lead pipes in Rochester would not be replaced until 2050. Can you imagine having thousands and thousands of children exposed to lead for 30 more years?"

The money will also work to upgrade the Frederick Douglass-Greater Rochester International Airport, remove “infrastructure barriers” like the Inner Loop North, and hire workers from disadvantaged communities to work on federally-funded infrastructure projects.