Mountain view, California –– Today, Google org announced $ 3 million in grants BlueConduit Charity fund, NRDC (Defense Council for Natural Resources) and WE ACT for environmental justice to support the equitable replacement of lead service lines.
The grants will fund the development of BlueConduit’s open source machine learning technologies, which will enable cities and towns of all sizes to quantify and map their inventory of leading service lines and help communities reduce the cost of replacing those health-threatening ones To assess components of our water infrastructure. The tool will also enable water utilities to create publicly available maps that aim to strengthen public communications and help meet the upcoming requirements of the US EPA Revised Lead and Copper Rule. The first software will be made available in the first half of 2022. BlueConduit, WE ACT, and NRDC will work closely with community groups and public utilities to ensure the tools are tailored to their needs.
“The massive uncertainty surrounding fundamental questions such as ‘How many lead service lines do we have in our community?’ is both costly and dangerous, ”said Eric Schwartz, Co-Founder of BlueConduit and Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “By providing these free tools and services and bringing these partners together, we want to empower communities and water systems across the country to efficiently replace these pipes, reduce the time people live with lead, and produce fairer results for them to achieve the communities across the country. ”
“Lead Service Lines are a scourge threatening the health of families in all states. This project will help residents understand the scale of the problem in their community and advocate a fair program to replace these lead pipes. Nobody should worry that the water coming from the kitchen faucet could contaminate their children with lead, ”said Erik D. Olson, senior strategic director for health and nutrition at NRDC.
House connection pipes are pipes that connect water pipes to individual houses. An NRDC poll estimated that leading utilities carry drinking water to 9 to 12 million households in the United States. Lead is a metal that can be harmful to health even with low exposure, and low-income and paint communities carry a disproportionately high exposure to lead poisoning. For many municipalities, information about the number and location of pipe connections in their water systems is limited and not publicly available. This makes it difficult for local residents to understand their potential risk and for cities to budget for renovation costs that can delay pipe replacement. In addition, this type of information is required for communities seeking access to federal funding.
“While lead poisoning is completely preventable, it remains a deadly threat to many black communities Studies This shows that black children living below the poverty line are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as poor white children, ”said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for environmental justice. “We look forward to working with BlueConduit, Google.org and NRDC on this project to help local organizations identify and promote the remediation of lead pipe infrastructure that is contaminating drinking water in their communities.”
“At Google.org, we believe that by bringing together technology, innovation and community expertise, we can make great strides in efficiently addressing some of our most pressing and complex challenges. And lead pollution in our drinking water is certainly one of them, ”said Brigitte Gosselink, Google.org Director of Product Impact. “We look forward to working with BlueConduit, WE ACT and NRDC to do this incredibly important work.”
Funding supports working with WE ACT, with contributions from NRDC, to fund local community groups in three selected cities to enable greater reach and education around service line replacement. WE ACT will manage funding and provide guidance and training to local organizations to support community engagement, education, and the identification and removal of lead in water risks in their communities. NRDC will support the project and the local partners in technical, legal and political elements and together with WE ACT will convene the partnership. BlueConduit will work with the water utility companies in each of the cities to help develop their service line inventory.
The grants build on Google.org’s previous efforts to address the harmful effects of lead in municipal water supplies. In 2016, volunteers from Google.org and a team from the University of Michigan began working on a project to provide information about water quality to Flint residents. The team’s work evolved into predictive models to locate senior service lines who led the city’s redevelopment efforts. That team later formed BlueConduit to take its technology to more cities, and created in partnership with NRDC FlintPipeMap.org, an interactive map that uses machine learning to provide local residents with information about lead in their water supply lines.
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues and apply scalable, data-driven innovations to solve the world’s greatest challenges. We accelerate their progress by connecting them with a unique mix of support that includes funding, products and technical expertise from Google volunteers. We work with these believers who have become makers who have a significant impact on the communities they represent and whose work has the potential to make meaningful change. We want a world that works for everyone – and we believe that technology and innovation can move the needle.
The BlueConduit Charitable Fund receives funding for this project. BlueConduit Charitable Fund is a tax-assisted project of the Windward Fund and contracts with BlueConduit to carry out its charitable work. BlueConduit is a water analysis company that has developed state-of-the-art predictive machine learning methods to locate senior service lines and provide local officials with the information to efficiently remove these pipes. Our model enables utilities to focus their resources on digging where the lead lies and accelerate the elimination of these serious health problems and save millions of dollars by avoiding excavations. Since 2016 we have worked with more than 50 communities and inventoried nearly 1 million service lines that serve more than 2 million people. Visit us at BlueConduit.com and keep following us Twitter or LinkedIn.
About WE ACT
WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a member-based organization based in north Manhattan whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and / or low-income residents wisely participate in creating solid and fair policies and practices to protect the environment and environmental protection. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, DC Visit us at weact.org and keep following us Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970 our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.