Federal Funds for Lead Testing, Water Infrastructure & Lead Reduction
The FY18 Omnibus spending bill passed in Congress on March 26 included $20 million for a voluntary program to test school and childcare drinking water for lead. These funds were authorized by Section 2107 in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-322). WIIN, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), was enacted Dec. 11, 2016 and signed by President Obama on Dec. 16, 2016.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the administering agency. EPA will make grants available to states or to local educational agencies (LEAs) to assist LEAs in voluntary testing for elevated lead levels in drinking water in schools and child care programs that are under LEA jurisdiction. Testing will be required to meet EPA guidance, or state guidance if it is more stringent, and LEAs are to make results public.
The FY18 Omnibus funded two additional water infrastructure improvement grant programs:
$20 million to begin a grant program to help small and disadvantaged communities develop and maintain adequate water infrastructure (section 2104 of P.L. 114- 322).
$10 million to begin a grant program to provide assistance to eligible entities for lead reduction projects (section 2105 of P.L. 114-322)
All three new grant programs will be administered out of EPA’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. The Agency is directed to brief the Committees prior to publishing its request for applications related to each new grant program.