Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an award of $6,137,000 in grant funding to assist the California Department of Social Services with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in childcare centers.
“Testing for lead in drinking water is critical for the protection of our children,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA is pleased to support California in its efforts to detect and reduce lead in drinking water, thereby protecting children's health at childcare centers and elsewhere.”
The State of California has been proactive in testing drinking water for lead in childcare centers. In 2018, California’s Legislature passed AB2370, expanding the state’s lead testing program to require testing of more than 15,000 childcare centers serving over 800,000 children; EPA’s funding will support testing at these childcare centers.
“CDSS is excited about this opportunity to continue to support the overall health and safety of children in California,” said Pam Dickfoss, Deputy Director of Community Care Licensing at the California Department of Social Services.
California will use the EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water guidance and its strategic partnerships to implement its program, with the goal of reducing lead exposure at these centers by testing for lead, identifying potential lead sources, and taking action. Additionally, the state and its partner organizations will provide education to parents on the risks and effects of lead exposure, blood lead testing recommendations and requirements, and options for obtaining blood lead testing.
The EPA grant provides funds for testing drinking water lead levels, for development of Corrective Action Plans, and for the provision of technical assistance to childcare centers that need remediation for lead in their drinking water.
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.
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 childcare centers by requiring water systems, to take drinking water samples from the schools and childcare centers 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 $1B 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
Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.