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Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems

WIIN Grant: Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water

Authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant creates a voluntary program to assist with testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs.  The grant will include a approximately $43.7 million in funding. 

States

In a letter to the Governors, EPA requested that states interested in participating in the grant program submit letters of intent to EPA by February 11, 2019.  EPA conducted two webinars detailing the grant objectives and process for responding with a letter of intent. 

Tribal Consultation

The EPA also made available the tribal consultation letter and a consultation and coordination plan on EPA’s Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System (TCOTS) website located at https://tcots.epa.gov. EPA held two informational webinars for tribal governments in October 2018. The webinars  provided an overview of the WIIN Act grants and answer questions. Tribes were given until October 22, 2018 to provide comment on this action.

Additional Resources

Frequent Questions

What does the WIIN Act, section 2107, authorize?

Section 1464(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as amended by section 2107 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), authorizes EPA to award grants to states for assistance in voluntary testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. As defined in SDWA section 1464(d)(1):

  1. Child Care Program- The term ‘child care program’ has the meaning given the term ‘early childhood education program’ in section 103(8) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1003(8)).
  2. Local Education Agency- The term ‘local education agency’ means:
  • a local education agency (as defined in section 8101 of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801));
  • a tribal education agency (as defined in section 3 of the National Environmental Education Act (20 U.S.C. 5502)); and
  • a person that owns or operates a child care program facility.

The grant program is designed to reduce exposure of children to lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities. This program is referred to as the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program. While EPA has authority under WIIN to establish grant programs, funding is subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

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What is the objective of the grant program?

The principal objective of the assistance to be awarded under this program is to provide grants to states and territories to help assist schools and child care programs to test for lead in drinking water, utilizing EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance or applicable state regulations or guidance regarding reducing lead in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are not less stringent. The goals of the grant program are to

  1. Reduce children’s exposure to lead in drinking water
  2. Help states target funding toward schools unable to pay for testing
  3. Utilize the 3Ts model to establish best practices for a lead in drinking water prevention program
  4. Foster sustainable partnerships at the state and local level to allow for more efficient use of existing resources and exchange of information among experts in various education and health sectors
  5. Enhance community, parent, and teacher cooperation and trust

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What does the grant requirement mean when it says, “the grantee must utilize EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools adn Child Care Facilities guidance or applicable state regulations or guidance regarding reducing lead in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are not less stringent”?

The grantee must utilize EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance when implementing the program to test for lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities. The grantee can choose to not use the 3Ts guidance but only when utilizing an applicable existing state program or regulation. The grantee must demonstrate that the state program or regulation is no less stringent than the following elements outlined in the 3T’s guide:

  1. Communication should be integrated throughout the development and implementation of the lead testing in drinking water in school and child care program.  Communication should establish key partnerships to support the program as well as keeping the public informed.
  2. Training school officials to raise awareness of the potential occurrences, causes and health effects of lead in drinking water. Utilize established partnerships to develop program plans and to assign responsibilities that provide the framework for an effective program.
  3. Testing drinking water in schools and child care facilities to identify potential problems utilizing existing states guidance for testing or, when not established, utilizing 3T's guidance for testing.
  4. Taking Action by developing and implementing a plan to reduce lead in drinking water and communicate to parents, staff, and the larger school community. 

To learn more about these elements, please visit https://www.epa.gov/safewater/3Ts

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Who is eligible to apply for the grant?

Eligibility to apply for and receive funds under the grant program is limited to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Additionally, 6.44 percent of appropriated funding will be distributed to assist tribal education agencies (including in Alaska Native Villages) in testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs. For more information on tribal eligibility, please contact Temple.Leslie@epa.gov.

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Is a state eligible to receive funding if the state already has a lead testing in schools and child care drinking water program?

Yes, however, if resources are available to a state or local education agency from any other federal agency, a state, or a private foundation for testing for lead contamination in drinking water, the state or local education agency should demonstrate that the funds provided from the WIIN grant will not displace those resources.

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What is considered an eligible project?

Grant funds shall be expended in accordance with

  • The EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance or
  • Applicable state regulations or guidance regarding reducing lead in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are not less stringent.

Under this grant local education agencies must also

  • Make available a copy of the results of any testing for lead in drinking water carried out using grant funds, if applicable, in the administration offices and, to the extent practicable, on the internet website of the local educational agency for inspection by the public and
  • Notify parent, teacher, and employee organizations of the availability of the results.

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Are matching funds required?

No.

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Is the grant competitive or noncompetitive?

Noncompetitive.

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How do states apply for grant funding?

EPA mailed letters to governors on September 21, 2018 announcing this noncompetitive grant.  States submitted a Notice of Intent to Participate (NOIP) letter due by February 11, 2019. Upon receipt, EPA considers the state agency designated in the NOIP, the lead agency for the state. EPA has announced the state allotments for the Grant Program and will publish a implementation document for states in the coming weeks. Participating states must then draft a workplan and budget narrative and send this document to their EPA Regional contacts for review. EPA will review the workplan and budget narrative draft and provide comments so that the state or territory can correct any issues prior to submitting the document in their application on Grants.gov. See What is the funding schedule for additional details.

On September 21, 2018, EPA initiated consultation and coordination with federally recognized tribes to obtain input on the establishment of this tribal drinking water grant program. Tribes were given until October 22, 2018, to provide comment on this action. Tribal consultation materials are available on EPA’s Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System (TCOTS) website located at: https://tcots.epa.gov.

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What is the funding schedule?

The steps below outline the procedure and schedule for states to participate in the 2019 Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program. Additional schedule details will be provided with the grant implementation document.

September 21, 2018

EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) sends to Governors of all eligible states the letter announcing the FY 2019 grant program; EPA initiates tribal consultation, to end on October 22, 2018

February 11, 2019

Extended deadline for all participating states and territories to submit a Notice of Intent to Participate (NOIP) to OGWDW via email (WIINDrinkingWaterGrants@epa.gov)

April 29, 2019

OGWDW will inform the states and territories of their final allocation via email

May 2019

Implementation Document and Workplan Sample available to states

June 2019 (30 days after implementation materials are available)

Deadline for states to submit final draft workplans and budget narratives to their EPA Regional Office for review

July 2019 (60 days after implementation materials are available)

Deadline for participating states to submit their final application package to www.Grants.gov

Please note: This schedule is subject to change and updated information will be provided directly to states as needed.

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How much money will states receive?

EPA will award approximately $43.7 million for the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program. In accordance with 33 U.S.C. 2201, subject to the availability of appropriations, the program is authorized to be appropriated $20 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to be made available to states, tribes and territories participating in the Program.  The allocation is in the form of assistance agreements under the State Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program.

EPA has announced the state allotments for the Grant Program.

Not more than 4 percent of grant funds accepted by a state or territory shall be used to pay the administrative costs of carrying out the program. Approximately 6.44% or $2,815,000 will be allotted for assistance to tribal education agencies (including in Alaska Native Villages).

If fewer than all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five qualifying territories submit a NOIP, then the formula will be applied to any unclaimed base funds, and these funds will be reallocated to the all participating states’ and territories’ potential base funding.

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How much of the grant funding is allotted for tribes?

Approximately 6.44 percent or $2,815,000 will be allotted for assistance to tribal education agencies (including in Alaska Native Villages).

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Is this one-time funding?

EPA will award approximately $43.7 million for the 2019 Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program. In accordance with 33 U.S.C. 2201, subject to the availability of appropriations, the Program is authorized to be appropriated $20 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to be made available to states, tribes and territories participating in the Program.

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Can grant funds be used for lead remediation?

No. The Lead Testing in School and Child Care  Drinking Water Grant Program funding can only be used for testing for lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities utilizing EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance or applicable state regulations or guidance regarding reducing lead in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are not less stringent. 

However, section 2105 of the WIIN Act, Reducing Lead in Drinking Water, creates a new grant program for lead reduction projects.  Eligible entities include community water systems, non-governmental organizations, tribal water systems, nontransient noncommunity water systems, and municipality or state, interstate, or inter-municipal agencies. Eligible projects include projects or activities the primary purpose of which is to reduce the concentration of lead in water for human consumption. Priority will be given to disadvantaged communities with an action level exceedance in the last three years or to address lead levels in school, daycare, or other facility that primarily serves children. The Request for Applications (RFA) will be released in the summer of 2019. To learn more, contact WIINDrinkingWaterGrants@epa.gov.

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Can all schools facilities use grant funding for testing, including private or charter schools?

The award to states will provide assistance in voluntary testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs as defined in SDWA section 1464(d)(1):

(A) Child Care Program- The term ‘child care program’ has the meaning given the term ‘early childhood education program’ in section 103(8) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1003(8)). 

(B) Local Education Agency- The term ‘local education agency’ means:

  1. a local education agency (as defined in section 8101 of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801));
  2. a tribal education agency (as defined in section 3 of the National Environmental Education Act (20 U.S.C. 5502)); and
  3. a person that owns or operates a child care program facility.

The term "local education agency" (LEA) as defined in section 8101 of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801)  means a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a state to administer a service for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state, or recognized in a state as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools. For example this would include public school districts, Educational Service Agencies, such as Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Intermediate Educational Units, and those charter schools that operate as LEAs under state law. Private schools are not included within the definition of LEA.

States can also use grant funding to test lead in drinking water at public and private child care facilities.

The program is designed to reduce exposure of children, who are most vulnerable, to lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities. EPA recognizes that states may not be able to test all schools and child care facilities through this grant; as such, EPA recommends prioritizing those facilities where children maybe more vulnerable to lead exposure. Grant funding to child care programs and local education agencies should be prioritized to target the following:

  1. Schools and child care programs in underserved and/or low-income communities [e.g., schools with at least 50% of the children receiving free and reduced lunch and Head Start facilities];
  2. Elementary and child care facilities that primarily care for children 6 and under; and
  3. Older facilities that are more likely to contain lead plumbing; schools built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.

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Can tribal private schools receive money to test for lead in drinking water?

The term "tribal education agency" is defined in the National Environmental Education Act  as a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, including any Alaska Native village, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the US to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of India Affairs (BIA). Therefore, any school, public or private, that serves federally recognized Native populations, and is not BIA, is eligible.

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Can grant funds be used to replace water fountains or to remediate lead contamination in school or child care drinking water?

No. Grant funding can only be used to establish and implement a lead testing program utilizing EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance or applicable state regulations or guidance regarding reducing lead in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are not less stringent.  Grant funding cannot be used to replace fountains, fixtures, lead lines or any remediation activity. 

However, section 2105 of the WIIN Act, Reducing Lead in Drinking Water, creates a new grant program for lead reduction projects.  Eligible entities include community water systems, non-governmental organizations, tribal water systems, nontransient noncommunity water systems, and municipality or state, interstate, or inter-municipal agencies. Eligible projects include projects or activities the primary purpose of which is to reduce the concentration of lead in water for human consumption. Priority will be given to disadvantaged communities with an action level exceedance in the last three years or to address lead levels in school, daycare, or other facility that primarily serves children. The grant will be solicited in a Request for Applications (RFA), which will be released in the summer of 2019. To learn more, contact WIINDrinkingWaterGrants@epa.gov.

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Is there a set aside for the administration of the grant?

Yes, four percent of the state’s total project costs may be used to cover administrative type costs (e.g. personnel, benefits, travel, and office supplies).

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What is EPA's 3T's for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities?

EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities was developed to assist schools and child care facilities with lead in their drinking water, implement prevention programs using a “3Ts” approach: Training, Testing, and Taking Action. It is intended for use by school personnel interested in reducing lead exposure. 

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Can states who require lead testing in school and/or child care drinking water receive grant funding?

Yes. The purpose of the grant is to provide funding to states and territories to help assist schools and child care programs to test for lead in drinking water. The WIIN Act directs EPA to “make grants available to States to assist local educational agencies in voluntary testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs.” For the purposes of this grant program, the term “voluntary” refers to the fact that EPA is not requiring that states test for lead in drinking water. If a state has an existing voluntary or mandatory program, this funding must be used to compliment the state’s current actions to test for lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities. The grant funding cannot replace existing funding from other sources and cannot be used to pay for monitoring required under the Lead and Copper Rule. If a state doesn’t have an existing program, the grant funds can be used to create assistance for schools and child care programs to test for lead in drinking water. In both cases the states should prioritize schools and child care facilities who need assistance (e.g., prioritizing schools who need the most financial assistance).

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Do you have a memorandum template for the Notice of Intent to Participate that the State can use?

EPA does not have memo template. However, state governors or designee can email Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler at WIINDrinkingwatergrants@epa.gov using the following format:

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler:

On behalf of the state/territory of ________________, I submit this email as notice of intent to participate in the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Drinking Water Grant program as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act. The (insert the State/territory Department/agency here) will serve as the lead state/territory agency for this program. Please send any following up information pertaining to the grant program to the following:

     Name:

     Phone number:

     Email:

     Mailing address:

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Do schools and child care facilities that are considered public water systems (PWS) qualify for this grant funding?

Yes, the purpose of the program is to provide funding to states and territories to help assist schools and child care programs to test for lead in drinking water. However, grant funding cannot be used to pay for monitoring required under the Lead and Copper Rule. In accordance with the America’s Waters Infrastructure Act (AWIA) §2006, which amended the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIN) §2107, states or territories will assist in voluntary testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs that are in low-income areas. EPA encourages states to prioritize grant funding to support schools and child care facilities in need of assistance to include:

  1. Schools and child care programs in underserved and/or low-income communities [e.g., schools with at least 50% of the children receiving free and reduced lunch and Head Start facilities];
  2. Elementary and child care facilities that primarily care for children 6 and under; and
  3. Older facilities that are more likely to contain lead plumbing; schools built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.  Please note that grant funding cannot be used to pay for monitoring required under the Lead and Copper Rule.

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What is the remediation level for lead in schools and child care facilities?

There is no recommended remediation level in the updated guidance.  EPA encourages schools to prioritize remediation efforts based on the highest lead sample results and to use the steps in the toolkit to pinpoint potential lead sources to reduce their lead levels. In establishing and conducting programs for lead in drinking water in schools, states have the discretion, but are not required, to identify a remediation levels for their program. Schools and child care facilities are encouraged to check with state and local health department as they may have guidance or requirements. 

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Is there a time limit to use the funds allocated for this grant?

Yes, funds should be obligated by the state no later than two years from the beginning of the project period.

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If most or all schools in a state recently completed testing for lead in drinking water and the next routine testing is planned to be in a few years, can that state participate in this grant program?

Yes. The funding supports testing for lead in drinking water in both schools and child care facilities. States should prioritize schools and child care facilities that have not been tested.  For example, if all the schools in the state have tested their drinking water for lead then the state could prioritize child care programs.  Also, should the state identify schools that may require additional testing due to previous testing results, the funding could be utilized to support such testing.

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