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EPA Awards Kentucky $576,000 in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water

02/27/2020
Contact Information: 
Jason McDonald (region4press@epa.gov)
404-562-9203, 404-562-8400

FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 27, 2020)—Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards $576,000 in grant funding to assist Kentucky with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools or child care facilities.

“Addressing childhood lead exposure from drinking water sources is a top EPA priority,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “EPA is proud to help Kentucky protect children and families from lead exposure and invest in thoughtful, preventative actions."

“I’m thrilled to see this significant grant go toward something that directly affects our children – safe drinking water,” said Congressman James Comer (R-KY). This WIIN grant will set our schools and childcare facilities up for success through ensuring the water is lead-free and safe for consumption. As the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment, which is tasked with evaluating EPA policies related to safe drinking water, this issue has been at the forefront of my agenda. I look forward to the benefits this substantial grant will provide to our Kentucky communities.”

“As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am proud to join in announcing that Kentucky will receive a grant to test for lead in drinking water in Kentucky’s schools and child care facilities,” said Congressman Guthrie (R-KY). “We need to ensure that Kentucky’s students and teachers are not exposed to lead. I look forward to continuing to work with the EPA to serve Kentuckians.”

“This funding will allow Kentucky to assess whether our children are being exposed to lead in drinking water in their school buildings,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “This is a good step in raising awareness and providing resources to address this important issue.”

Under EPA’s new Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA has awarded $43.7 million in grants towards funding the implementation of testing for lead in drinking water. This funding is a resource which creates or expands programs to test for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs in states and the District of Columbia. This action approves an award in the amount of $576,000 to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Water to assist with implementing its Lead in Children’s Drinking Water Reduction Program to test for lead contamination in drinking water at all licensed child care centers. EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools will be used by the grantee to assist schools in implementing lead in drinking water testing including identifying sources of lead such as fountains.

The information gathered will be disseminated out to all parties and will be used to help reduce lead exposure by utilizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s 3T Guidance of Training, Testing and Taking Action. 

Background:

Under Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, in December 2018 EPA with its federal partners announced the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. Through the Action Plan, EPA is working to reduce lead exposures from multiple sources including: paint, ambient air, and soil and dust contamination. As part of the Action Plan, EPA proposed a rule in October 2019 that significantly improves the actions that water systems must take to reduce lead in the nation’s drinking water. This proposed rule represents the first major overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991 and will better protect children in schools and child care facilities by requiring water systems, to take drinking water samples from the schools and child care facilities served by the system.

 In addition, the agency is taking other significant actions to modernize aging water infrastructure and reduce exposure to lead, including:

  • Financing drinking water infrastructure improvement projects through EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. In 2019, 11 of the 38 selected projects will reduce lead or emerging drinking water contaminants.
  • Working with states, tribes, and territories to award $87 million in funding through EPA’s two new drinking water grant programs established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN)— the Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program and the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities grant program. EPA will announce funding details for WIIN’s third newly-created grant program dedicated to reducing lead in drinking water systems in early 2020.
  • Providing more than $1 billion in 2019 in new federal grant funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) which can be used for loans that help drinking water systems improve distribution systems by removing lead service lines.

Learn more about this grant and EPA’s WIIN grant programs at https://www.epa.gov/safewater/grants