Using Federal Funds to Remediate Lead
Although obscured in congressional debates over the Biden administration’s broader domestic policy agenda, there is bipartisan consensus on the need to do more to ensure clean drinking water in schools and communities. Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published revisions to rules on tightened restrictions on lead and copper, and the Senate has twice this year voted to improve water quality.
In April 2021, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, and in August, they voted to approve the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $55 billion in new spending for drinking water projects. A House vote was postponed in late September. If the bill were to pass, the increased investment would provide a springboard for states seeking to remove lead from drinking water and make children’s learning environments safer.
In 2017, most U.S. school district officials who were surveyed reported that they either had not tested their schools’ drinking water in the previous 12 months or did not know if they had, according to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report. Of the 43 percent of school districts that did test, 37 percent found elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. …