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EPA Announces $40 Million in Grant Funding to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water in Disadvantaged Communities and Schools

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WASHINGTON (October 23, 2020) — Today, at multiple events across the country in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Benton Harbor, Mich.; Newark, N.J.; and a virtual event for Virginia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials announced projects that were selected to receive nearly $40 million in grant funding under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). These first-ever selections under the WIIN Act’s Reduction in Lead Exposure via Drinking Water grant will be used to assist disadvantaged communities and schools with removing sources of lead in drinking water. 

The selected grantees will conduct projects that will reduce lead exposure in drinking water by replacing thousands of lead service lines and removing potential sources of lead in hundreds of schools and childcare facilities across the United States. The selected grantees include:

Lead Service Line Replacement Projects

  • Providence Water Supply Board, RI - $6.4M
  • City of Benton Harbor, Mich. - $5.6M
  • City of Grand Rapids, Mich. - $5.1M

Lead in Schools and Childcare Facilities Projects

  • Indiana Finance Authority - $544,000
  • Newark Board of Education, N.J. - $7.5M
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Clean Water Trust - $3M
  • District of Columbia - $2.3M
  • Elevate Energy, Ill. - $2M
  • Virginia Department of Health - $1.3M
  • Boston Public Schools, Mass. - $6.2M

In addition, under the Water Infrastructure Fund Transfer Act (WIFTA) various states have conducted a one-time transfer from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) for lead-related, DWSRF-eligible projects. Under this Act, states have transferred nearly $550 million to support efforts to reduce lead in exposure in drinking water.

Here is what EPA and others said today about the grants:

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: “Ensuring that Americans have safe drinking water, regardless of their zip code, is a top priority for EPA. Replacing lead water service lines as quickly as possible is an investment in our children’s future and America’s future. Our agency will do everything it can to ensure that Great Lakes communities like Benton Harbor and Grand Rapids have safe drinking water and clean water for recreation, which in turn will directly benefit the local economy.”

EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento: “Reducing sources of lead in drinking water in schools and childcare facilities is an investment in our children’s future, our economic future, and America’s future. Today’s $1.3 million grant announcement for Virginia provides another example of the Trump Administration’s leadership in helping to ensure that all American’s have safe drinking water.”

EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede: “This is great day for Michigan, and for the Grand Rapids and Benton Harbor communities. This Administration has made it clear that the protection of our drinking water supply, and of the health and safety of Americans across the country has been and will remain a top priority.” 

EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez: “Today’s announcement provides another example of the Trump Administration’s leadership in helping to ensure that all American’s have safe drinking water. As part of the newly formed Water Subcabinet, EPA and its federal partners will continue protecting the nation’s waters to benefit public health and the environment while creating jobs and spurring economic development.”

EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio: “Grants like these allow us to take the necessary steps to safeguard our most precious assets, our children. All children deserve to learn and thrive in healthy school environments. These funds will go a long way in helping schools and child care facilities provide safe drinking water to children and faculty.” 

EPA’s Office of Water Senior Policy Counsel Jessica Kramer: “Last year, EPA worked hand in hand with the city of Newark and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to help ensure that the city’s drinking water was safe. We are glad to be back in Newark today, acknowledging the great work the city is doing to protect public health and announcing this EPA grant funding that will directly help reduce lead in schools.”

U.S. Senator Cory Booker: “Every American should have access to safe, clean drinking water, and this federal funding takes another important step towards making that a reality for Newark’s children. Residents of Newark, including myself, are counting on the federal government to remedy this environmental injustice and protect our children. I was proud to fight for this funding in the WIIN Act to ensure critical protections to public health are in place while making long-overdue investments in our aging infrastructure and boosting economic development.”

U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06): “In these unprecedented times with so much uncertainty, families should be able to be certain about this: their drinking water is safe for their children, friends, and loved ones. Today’s announcement takes an important step to ensuring just that. This is a critically serious issue, and we need to continue to come together to guarantee safe drinking water for southwest Michigan’s communities.”

U.S. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10): “I was extremely pleased to hear about the $7.5 million EPA grant to support the Newark Safe Water Initiative and provide cleaner drinking water in the city’s schools. I have been working to get federal assistance for Newark’s water issues for years and trying to provide clean drinking water to all American schoolchildren through bills, such as my TEST for Lead Act. This is a great day for the city, and I want to thank the EPA for recognizing the need for such funding in Newark.” 

U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08): “I am pleased to hear the Newark Board of Education is receiving this much needed grant funding that will help make drinking water at Newark public schools safer. This funding, which comes as part of the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act grant program, will be instrumental in addressing conditions that contribute to increased levels of lead in drinking water at Newark public schools. As a Senior member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to fight to ensure everyone has access to clean drinking water.”

Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-9): “Water infrastructure is important to the health, quality of life, and economic potential of a community. Today’s award of $1.3 million by the Trump Administration’s EPA is specifically focused on reducing our children’s exposure to lead. The funds will support schools and child care facilities as they upgrade their water systems. I’m proud to support this investment in the Commonwealth’s future and am pleased the EPA is beginning to work on this problem through legislation such as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act).” 

City of Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka: “We are thankful for the EPA’s grant to further support our work to protect Newark families and children from the dangers of lead exposure. The City of Newark is near completion of replacing all of our lead service lines to homes throughout the city. With significant infrastructure investments and an unwavering priority of securing our community’s health, safety and quality of life, we remain committed to delivering the purest water possible to our residents.”

Director of Newark's Water and Sewer Department said Kareem Adeem: “The EPA has been a great partner in helping us identify and correct the lead leachates in our service lines. This grant to our Board of Education furthers their partnership and our commitment to eradicate lead from leaching into our drinking water.”

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe: “We are grateful to the City of Newark and the EPA for their partnership in reducing lead in drinking water, especially for Newark’s schoolchildren. Throughout New Jersey and the entire country, sources of lead in our water infrastructure must be remediated to reduce the risk of lead exposure from drinking water. Newark has proven to be a national leader in reducing lead risk. Today’s announcement demonstrates that reducing lead exposure requires a coordinated effort at the federal, state and local levels to better protect public health.”

Newark Board of Education Superintendent Roger León: “The Newark Safe Water Initiative completes a full remediation, provides new service lines and fixtures through strategic planning, sampling, and testing, and sustains the water filtration system in schools that have been remediated. By achieving the objectives of this project because of the EPA and with the city of Newark’s support, we will have an increased number of drinking water fixtures, fountains, outlets, and plumbing in schools.” 

Director of the Office of Drinking Water at the Virginia Department of Health Dwayne Roadcap: “These new grant funds, along with previous WIIN funds, will allow us to test for lead in drinking water and remediate problems in hundreds of schools and child care centers in Virginia. Next week, Oct. 25-31, is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and it’s a perfect time to shine a light on efforts like these to protect the health of our communities.” 

Virginia House of Delegate Israel O’Quinn (VA-05): “Here in Southwest Virginia we certainly have Opportunity Zones, and communities that are sometimes forgotten by Richmond and Washington. In many of those same communities, lead pipes and fixtures still exist, which is obviously not ideal or healthy for anyone.  Having the opportunity to mitigate this problem in our public schools and childcare facilities will be meaningful progress both for our region and for our Commonwealth as a whole. Thanks to the EPA for stepping up to partner with us as we collectively tackle this problem.”


The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) addresses, supports, and improves America's drinking water infrastructure.  Included in the WIIN Act are three drinking water grants that promote public health and the protection of the environment. Since 2018, EPA has made available more than $69 million to support the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water and $42.8 million to assist public water systems in underserved, small and disadvantaged communities meet Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

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