New program launched to protect children from lead in drinking water in schools

New program launched to protect children from lead in drinking water in schools

MASSPIRG applauds program and encourages participation

BOSTON – A new statewide program called Massachusetts SWIG will protect kids from lead in their school drinking water, a growing problem across Massachusetts. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the state treasurer are launching SWIG, which stands for “school water improvement grants,” to provide schools with water filling stations certified to remove lead and provide free water testing for those schools that have yet to test their 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.

MASSPIRG Legislative Director Deirdre Cummings released the following statement on the launch of the program.

“This is great news. The health and safety of our children is priceless. Time and time again, Massachusetts has been a leader in protecting our children’s health and safety, and we are pleased once again to be ahead of the curve in getting the lead out of drinking water in schools and day care centers.

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

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.

Finally, we want to thank the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg for their leadership in launching the testing and water filling station program, which was funded with support from the state Legislature and the E.P.A. 

State leaders launch new SWIG program, celebrating with a drink of water from a water filling station certified to remove lead. Pictured L to R, Boston City Councilor, Annissa Essaibi George, Courtney Rainey, MassDEP, Fred Laskkey, Director of the MWRA, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Boston Green Academy Headmaster, Matt Holzer, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, Kathleen Theoharides, State Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Kevin Honan.



For more information, please see  Get the Lead Out , a report, which graded 32 states’ policies for addressing lead in school drinking wate