U.S. EPA Awards Hawaii $222,000 in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water | U.S. EPA News Releases

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News Releases from Region 09

09/16/2020

HONOLULU – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an award of $222,000 in grant funding to assist the Hawaii Department of Health’s Environmental Health Administration (EHA) 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 Hawaii in its efforts to detect and reduce lead in drinking water, thereby protecting children’s health at school and elsewhere.”

The State of Hawaii’s contribution to the project is an additional $696,000  from the technical assistance set-aside portion of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, for a total project worth $918,000. Hawaii’s project will include testing the drinking water for lead at outlets used for water consumption at 106 Department of Education schools and at 229 Department of Human Services licensed and regulated child care facilities.

The selected schools include those serving younger children, schools with greater than 50% of students receiving free or reduced cost lunch and older schools built before 1988.

The selected child care facilities include those that were not previously tested in 2008 as part of the comprehensive 2008 Hawaii Department of Health study, such as those built or licensed after the 2008 study.

Facilities built before 1988 pose a greater risk as they are more likely to contain lead-bearing materials in their plumbing. Outlets found to have water with elevated levels of lead will be retested, and then remediated as necessary. Results will be communicated to the facilities, families and the community.

“This partnership is a welcome opportunity to help protect and ensure that our schools’ drinking water sources are safe for children in Hawaii. We appreciate the EPA for their ongoing commitment to our island communities,” said Hawaii DOH Deputy Director Keith Kawaoka.

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.

EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools will be used by the Hawaii Department of Health 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.

Background:

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

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.

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