U.S. EPA Awards Arizona $621,991 in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water
PHOENIX - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an award of $621,991 in grant funding to assist the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools and childcare facilities.
“Lead testing of drinking water is critical for the protection of our children,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA is pleased to support Arizona in its efforts to detect and reduce lead in drinking water, thereby protecting children's health at school and elsewhere.”
Under EPA’s Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA has awarded $43.7 million in grants nationwide to fund testing for lead in drinking water at schools and childcare programs in states, territories and the District of Columbia.
Arizona has been proactive in testing school and childcare facilities for lead in drinking water. In 2016, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality tested 1,427 schools, and in 2017, ADHS tested 1,055 licensed childcare facilities for lead in drinking water. This work has been integrated with ADHS’s larger Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, which includes funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and others.
With this new funding, ADHS will test approximately 650 public charter schools that were not included in the earlier testing. It will also oversee the program, sampling agreements with county health departments, and communication of results to the public. ADHS expects about 10% of schools will require follow-up testing and outreach.
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 testing for lead in drinking water, including identifying sources of lead, such as lead solder in older drinking water fountains.
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. This includes 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