Utah to receive $599K to protect children from lead in drinking water
Aug 3, 2023, 7:26 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will receive $599,000 in grant money to reduce the amount of lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.
Following the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, removing sources of lead is now eligible for grants through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The money will be administered through President Joe Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.
“Ensuring that our children and our most vulnerable communities have access to clean drinking water is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration and EPA, said KC Becker, the EPA regional administrator who oversees Utah. “These additional funds will expand on existing lead remediation programs and help to improve public health in Utah.
“By amending existing clean water programs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and supporting them with historic infrastructure investments, EPA is taking unprecedented action to protect all our children from lead in drinking water.”
Although Congress banned the use of lead pipes and fixtures in new plumbing installations through an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1986, millions of old lead pipes are still in place throughout the United States.
Lead can enter the bloodstream through contaminated drinking water or by exposure to lead-based paints — which are common in homes built prior to 1978 when they were banned.
No safe blood lead level in children has been identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure to lead can cause serious adverse effects, including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed development, and problems with learning, behavior, hearing and speech.
The EPA grants will cover voluntary testing, monitoring and remediation actions, which could include “the removal, installation, and replacement of internal plumbing, lead pipes or lead connectors, faucets, water fountains, water filler stations, point-of-use devices, and other lead-free apparatus related to drinking water,” the agency said.
In 2022, the Utah Legislature passed a bill of its own to fund testing and monitoring of water for lead at schools and child care centers across the state. HB21 also requires schools and child care centers to “take steps to stop the use of the consumable tap or to reduce the lead level” if it exceeds a certain amount.