EPA Awards North Carolina $964,000 in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water
RALEIGH (May 14, 2020) —Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards $964,000 in grant funding to assist North Carolina 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 North Carolina protect children and families from lead exposure and invest in thoughtful, preventative actions."
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health (DPH) will use the funds to support testing of drinking water in schools and child care programs, to ensure that children are not being exposed to lead in the water they consume. Additionally, DPH will communicate, train, test, and educate staff in facilities in high risk communities throughout the state.
“The EPA WIIN Grant provides a critical source of funding to test drinking water for lead in an estimated 4,400 licensed child care centers statewide,” said DPH State Environmental Health Director Larry Michael. “Testing for and eliminating exposure to lead helps to ensure a safer early learning environment for the nearly a quarter of a million children that attend these centers.”
“We must do everything we can to provide North Carolina’s children a safe and healthy environment in which to learn,” said Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10). “The EPA WIIN Grant will help to ensure just that by providing the funds for testing drinking water in schools and child care centers.”
“As a physician, I appreciate the EPA granting these federal dollars to benefit the health of children in my district and across the state of North Carolina,” said Congressman Greg Murphy (NC-03). “Children in eastern North Carolina will be better protected from the dangers of lead as a result.”
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 creates or expands programs to test for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs nationwide. EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools will be used by grantees to assist schools in implementing lead in drinking water testing including identifying sources of lead such as drinking fountains.
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 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