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EPA Awards South Carolina $519,000 in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water

04/08/2020
Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

COLUMBIA, S.C. - (April 8, 2020) —Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards $519,000 in grant funding to assist the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) 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 the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control protect children and families from lead exposure and invest in thoughtful, preventative actions."

"This funding is important to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's vision of healthy people living in healthy communities. The focus of our efforts funded by this grant is reducing the potential for lead exposure in children, our most vulnerable population,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs. “Education, testing and infrastructure can all be used to reduce lead exposure."

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 child care programs in states and the District of Columbia. EPA’s 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.

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

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