State Announces Programs to Address Lead in School Drinking Water

BOSTON – The state will offer two programs to address lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities.

The Baker-Polito Administration, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust announced the continuation of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Expanded Assistance Program for Free Sampling and Analysis at Schools and Early Education and Care Facilities to offer lead testing and technical assistance to eligible facilities.

The Clean Water Trust’s School Water Improvement Grant program will also provide $5 million for the installation of water bottle filling stations at eligible facilities.

“Protecting the health and safety of all of the Commonwealth’s children is a top priority for our administration, which is why over the last three years we have provided free water sampling and technical assistance to almost a thousand schools across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. 

“With these new programs, we are both continuing that assistance while building on it by helping schools and daycare facilities that have found unsafe lead levels address this serious issue.”

Under current federal and state laws, lead testing in schools is voluntary.

Water supplied to schools is generally free of lead, but lead can be introduced into drinking water through plumbing and fixtures in buildings – especially in facilities that are more than two decades old.

The two programs are designed to encourage education and care facilities to perform lead testing and address elevated levels with the help of state experts.

MassDEP’s Expanded Assistance Program, funded through a $967,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will help eligible facilities implement effective testing programs, educate them about how to address elevated lead levels, including through the new SWIG program, and provide water quality information to the school community.

The Clean Water Trust’s SWIG program will provide grants to school districts that have tested their drinking water through the Commonwealth’s lead testing program or other comparable testing for water bottle filling stations.

These filtered fixtures will be used to reduce the levels lead in school drinking water.

Grant awards will be calculated based on a per fixture award of $3,000.

The number of fixtures will be based on the number of required fixtures to meet the Commonwealth’s Plumbing Code student to drinking fixture ratio of 75 students to one drinking water fixture.

The program is funded through a $5 million appropriation from Governor Baker’s FY19 supplemental state budget.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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