(STL.News) – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that another component of his Lead-Free Pennsylvania plan to address lead across the commonwealth was secured with a $1.74 million federal grant for testing lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs.
The grant comes through the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, specifically Section 1459B of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which authorizes grant funding for reducing lead in drinking water. The EPA funding will cover 100 percent of the project cost of water testing.
“To build a better, healthier Pennsylvania, we need to know the extent of problems such as lead in drinking water, so I am especially pleased that we received this EPA funding,” Gov. Wolf said. “Testing the water of thousands of child care centers and schools will give us a benchmark of the work we need to do next for removing lead from water and protecting our vulnerable school children.”
The funding will be administered by PENNVEST, in coordination with the departments of Education, Human Services, Health, and Environmental Protection. The next step is to issue a competitive RFP in the coming weeks for interested parties to coordinate voluntary testing in targeted schools and child care facilities throughout Pennsylvania. The Department of Education has a list of approximately 3,000 targeted facilities that:
• Have a high propensity for lead contamination,
• Serve large numbers of disadvantaged populations, and/or
• Serve large numbers of lower-income children under the age of 6.
The result of the testing, which is expected to conclude by the end of the first quarter of 2021, will equip commonwealth agencies with accurate information on the scope of lead exposure among our most vulnerable populations.
In late January, Gov. Wolf announced his proposal to expand the state’s RACP program to include up to $1 billion for lead removal and remediation in Pennsylvania’s toxic schools, which could mean funding for the next steps for those facilities that test high for lead levels in the water. He also announced the submission of the EPA grant request that is now officially approved with the announcement today.