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EPA Awards Michigan $1.19 Million in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water

03/19/2020
Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-020

LANSING, Mich. (March 19, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1,190,000 in grant funding to assist the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment (EGLE) with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools or childcare facilities.

“This new grant program shows EPA’s ongoing commitment to protect Michigan’s children from the harmful effects of lead exposure,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “This funding will help Michigan improve protocols for finding lead and ensuring that schools and childcare facilities have access to safe drinking water.”

Under EPA’s new Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA has awarded $43.7 million in grants nationwide to help fund the implementation of testing for lead in drinking water. This funding is a resource that creates or expands programs to test for lead in drinking water at schools and childcare programs in states and the District of Columbia. The grant will allow EGLE to test 400 childcare centers throughout the state.

“Following the Flint water crisis, Michigan adopted some of the most stringent rules in the country to protect people, especially children, from lead poisoning,” said Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-11). “During this current coronavirus pandemic, it is now as important as ever to protect the public health of our children by ensuring they are not being exposed to toxins in water. I am glad that Michigan will receive critical funding from the EPA to continue this important work.”

“Parents deserve the peace of mind knowing their children’s drinking water is safe,” said Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01).  “This WIIN grant will allow schools and childcare facilities across Michigan to ensure the water they are consuming is lead free. I’m thankful for the continued commitment by the EPA to protect the health of our next generation.”

EPA’s Training, Testing, and Taking Action for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools will be used by Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to assist schools in implementing lead in drinking water testing including identifying sources of lead such as fountains. Testing results carried out using grant funds must be made publicly available.

Background:

Under Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, in December 2018 EPA and 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 childcare facilities by requiring water systems to take drinking water samples from the schools and childcare 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 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.

Learn more about this grant and EPA’s WIIN grant programs:

https://www.epa.gov/safewater/grants

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