PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island recently received an additional $3.3 million to fund the replacement of thousands of lead pipes statewide.

The money is part of the state’s plan to remove all existing lead pipes, which is something lawmakers believe should have already happened.

“We can’t take our access to clean drinking water for granted,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “In fact, we must do everything we can to protect and enhance it.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlawed the use of lead service lines for new construction back in 1986. While lead service lines aren’t inherently dangerous, corrosion can cause lead to seep into the water.

The EPA stressed that no amount of lead is safe in drinking water. Lead can cause brain damage and other serious health complications over time, especially in children and pregnant women.

Currently, Rhode Island leaders say there are an estimated 30,000 lead service lines still in use statewide. Rhode Island is slated to receive $141 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to replace those remaining lead pipes over the next five years.

The additional $3.3 million, secured by Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, will be specifically used to replace the lines serviced by Providence Water.

“Removing lead pipes is a costly endeavor. But it’s worth every penny,” Reed said. “The state is tapping these federal funds to protect and improve the health of Rhode Islanders by eliminating lead pipes and removing barriers to clean, safe drinking water.”

R.I. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio introduced the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act earlier this year, which would require the replacement of all lead service lines statewide over the next decade.

The legislation seeks to create a lead water supply replacement program for both public and private service lines, which would provide financial assistance to communities and property owners.

“No family should have to worry that their home’s water supply may be poisoning their children,” Ruggerio said. “A home should be a safe and nurturing environment, and every family deserves access to safe, lead-free, potable drinking water.”

“The Lead Poisoning Prevention Act will provide new urgency, and much needed additional resources, to this effort, helping us protect our children’s well-being and the health of all Rhode Islanders,” he continued.

Ruggerio tells 12 News he expects the legislation to pass the R.I. General Assembly later this month.

North Providence has already taken advantage of state and federal funding. Since 2016, Mayor Charlie Lombardi estimates that the town has replaced 102 lead service lines.

“Lead water pipes are a serious threat to the health of our communities, and I’m proud that North Providence has been a leader in addressing this issue proactively,” the mayor said. “We have worked hard to make sure the citizens of our town understand the urgency of this work, and we hope the progress we’ve made can provide an example for other cities and towns across Rhode Island.”

Lombardi expects the town to continue replacing lead service lines this spring, thanks in part to a $218,000 federal grant.