MA takes another step forward in getting lead out of drinking water

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MA takes another step forward in getting lead out of drinking water

Boston. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $90 million to address water infrastructure in Massachusetts today, including funding to continue efforts to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.

“This is great news and an investment in the health and safety of our children,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director, MASSPIRG.

Included in the funding are resources to help get lead out of drinking water as schools and child care facilities across the state. Specifically, $3 million went to the Clean Water Trust to be used for lead testing and installing filtered water filling stations.  The Clean Water Trust launched the SWIG Program “school water improvement grants” last year providing $954,000 in grants to purchase and install 318 water bottle filling stations in 37 school districts for 128 schools.

The EPA also award the Boston Public Schools a $6.2 million grant to get the lead out of drinking water in schools in Boston. The Boston Public Schools and the city of Boston matched the investment with additional $10 million. The money will be used for lead testing and to install 1400 new filtered bottle refill stations across the 87 BPS buildings that use bottled water as their sole source of drinking water.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that impairs how our children develop, learn and behave.  Yet, the state Department of Environmental Protection says it found lead in the water from more than half of the 43,000 taps tested in 980 schools across Massachusetts since 2016. The vast majority of those lead levels were in concentrations greater than the 1 part per billion (ppb) limit for lead recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Chair of the Clean Water Trust and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Martin Suuberg among others accepted the award for Massachusetts, continuing their efforts to get the lead out of school drinking water.

“While ensuring safe drinking water for all Massachusetts children will ultimately require more resources and action, this funding provides a significant down payment for eliminating exposure to lead at school, and will protect the health of students across the commonwealth,” said Cummings.

To ensure safe drinking water for all of Massachusetts’ children, we must also pass a critically important bill, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools, S 500/ H 774  filed by Sen. Joan Lovely (Salem), Rep. Lori Ehrlich (Marblehead), and a bipartisan group of 79 legislative cosponsors. The bill, currently pending in the legislature, would protect children’s health by establishing a health-based action level for lead in drinking water based on science; would require the installation of lead-certified filters or water filling stations and the regular and transparent testing of water; and the removal of lead contaminated fixtures.