Citywide project made top priority by Mayor; City Council could get dramatic timeline acceleration
She may have been a bit of a novice on Wednesday in examining the excavation site and viewing the metal devices that had been removed and replaced. But U.S. House Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Fifth District) is certainly not new at delivering for her Malden constituents. On Wednesday, the local Congresswoman toured a worksite in the upper West End of Malden where she announced her success in securing a request for a $3.36 million grant from the federal Community Projects Funding (CPF) program, which would go toward Malden’s lead service pipe replacement project.
After listening to some details of the lead service line replacement project by Malden municipal Water Engineer Glen Calla and others, including City Engineer Yem Lip, Assistant Speaker Clark said, “Even one person forced to drink polluted water is too many. Yet, in Malden and across our district, thousands of families receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines.”
She summed up her sentiment about securing the funding request and, hopefully, helping buttress the city’s ambitious project quite simply. “Malden deserves this,” Assistant Speaker Clark said.
The CPF is part of a nationwide push, backed by a $45 billion budgetary expenditure pushed by President Joe Biden to eliminate the nation’s remaining lead pipes, calling them “a clear and present danger” to local communities in an address to Congress in April.
There are as many as 10 million lead service lines in the United States, with an estimated 220,000 in Massachusetts, according to state and federal environmental officials.
Wednesday’s site tour was led by Mayor Gary Christenson at 54 Corey Rd., which is located on the West End highlands, and also on hand were Malden City Council President Neal Anderson, Special Assistant to the Mayor Maria Luise, Malden City Engineer Lip, Malden Water Engineer Calla and Malden DPW Water Supervisor John DeSantis.
“We are grateful to Assistant Speaker Clark for her support of the $3.36 million CPF request,” Mayor Christenson said Wednesday. “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.”
Malden has been identified as the community with the highest percentage of lead service lines in the Greater Boston Area. The $3.36 million funding request would accelerate the replacement of lead service lines delivering drinking water to Malden residents.
“I am proud to have secured $3.36 million in community project funding in the House Appropriations bill to finally replace these lines in Malden and am grateful to everyone who has spent years advocating for this project,” Assistant Speaker Clark said.
According to city officials, Malden has approximately 3,200 lead service lines and is under a consent decree issued from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to replace a minimum of 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. As of 2021, there are 2,076 lead lines remaining.
Mayor Christenson said the $3.36 million funding grant would be crucial to speeding up the timetable of this major municipal infrastructure project, which has been made a top priority by the Mayor and the Malden City Council.
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 residents lack the income or capital needed to pay for the replacement.
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 other organizations.
Assistant Speaker Clark said more work is required to see that the House Appropriations bill receives support from the U.S. Senate in its budget determinations. Both Clark and city officials said they will lobby U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a Malden native, to support this CPF request.
Assistant Speaker Clark pointed out two other projects included in her request from around the region, including one which would link the Commuter Rail and the Blue Line rapid transit service at Wonderland Station in Revere and another initiative which would improve and expand the bike path in the Wellington Station area.