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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Awards Illinois $1.5 Million in Funding to Test for Lead in School Drinking Water

Contact Information: 
Allison Lippert (

CHICAGO (Jan. 29, 2020) —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1,582,000 in grant funding to assist the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.

“This new grant program shows EPA’s commitment to better protecting America’s children from the harmful effects of lead exposure,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “This funding will help Illinois improve protocols for finding lead and ensuring that schools and child care facilities have access to safe drinking water.”

Under EPA’s new Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA has awarded $43.7 million in grants towards funding the implementation of testing for lead in drinking water. This funding is a resource which creates or expands programs to test for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs in states and the District of Columbia. The grant will allow IDPH to test 5,150 child care centers throughout the state.

“This federal funding for lead testing in schools and child care facilities in Illinois is a great step towards the goal of eliminating lead exposure among children,” said Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05). “This is a serious, nationwide problem and I am committed to ensuring EPA has the resources and staff necessary to build on today’s progress and continue to facilitate and support lead remediation efforts wherever they’re needed.”

EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools will be used by IDPH to assist schools in implementing lead in drinking water testing including identifying sources of lead such as fountains.

Testing results carried out using grant funds must be made publicly available.


Under Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, in December 2018 EPA with 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 including: 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 early 2020.

Learn more about this grant and EPA’s WIIN grant programs: