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EPA Awards Virginia Dept. of Health $737,000 to test for lead in drinking water at schools

02/20/2020
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PHILADELPHIA (February 20, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $737,000 in grant funding to the Virginia Department of Health through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) to assist with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.

“Protecting children from exposure to lead is a priority for EPA,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “This funding will support Virginia’s efforts to detect and reduce lead in drinking water, thereby protecting children’s health at schools and elsewhere.”

“Protecting our children from exposure to lead is critical and this grant will help us test for lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities, which is essential,” said Rep. Denver Riggleman. “I am pleased to partner with the EPA and Virginia Department of Health on the important work of keeping our children healthy and safe.”

Under WIIN’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.  In Virginia, the Department of Health will use EPA’s funding to support voluntary testing for lead in drinking water at schools and childcare 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. Testing results carried out using grant funds must be made publicly available.

Background:

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.