Massachusetts Clean Water Trust Announces the 2nd Round of SWIG Program
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the Trust), Chaired by State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, has announced that $2 million in grants will be made available in the second round of the Trust's School Water Improvement Grant (SWIG) program.
The SWIG program is designed to support school districts and private education and childcare facilities with lead mitigation for drinking water. SWIG covers the purchase and installation of filtered water bottle filling stations to address the elevated lead levels.
The pilot round provided grants to 37 school districts for 128 schools serving over 69,000 students in the Commonwealth. A total of $954,000 was disbursed to install 318 bottle filling stations.
The second round will provide $2 million in grants and will expand program eligibility from the pilot round to include private elementary schools, early education programs, and non-residential childcare facilities. Applications will be accepted beginning in January 2022.
In this round, SWIG will target funding to public and private facilities serving childcare and pre-K, kindergarten, and elementary schools. Facilities in underserved communities, communities at high risk for childhood lead poisoning, and those exceeding the Commonwealth's lead action level will be given priority.
SWIG is funded through an appropriation filed by Governor Charlie Baker and approved by the legislature, along with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This program has provided grants to school districts that have participated in the Commonwealth's lead testing program or other comparable testing for drinking water fixtures.
Under current federal and state laws, lead testing in schools is voluntary. Water supplied to schools is generally free of lead, but lead can be introduced into drinking water through plumbing and fixtures in buildings, especially in older facilities.
In 2016, Governor Baker and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg launched the Commonwealth's Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water, which provided schools and early education and childcare programs no-cost testing for lead in their facilities' drinking water and guidance on remedial actions.
"The SWIG Program has made great progress in delivering this vital resource to our schools and early education centers," said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Chair of the Clean Water Trust. "This is a critical health issue for so many communities and I applaud the collaboration and focus on the protection of our children everywhere."
"The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to work with Treasurer Goldberg and the Clean Water Trust to build on the success of SWIG's pilot round and significantly increase funding for round two," said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. "At these funding levels the program will support an even broader range of thousands of schools and childcare facilities working to ensure there is access to safe drinking water for children across the Commonwealth."
"The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to partner with the Trust to protect our children from the harmful effects of lead in our school drinking water," said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which administers the Lead in School Drinking Water Program. "The SWIG program is a great compliment to our current Expanded Assistance Program that has helped test for lead in more than 1,100 schools and childcare facilities."
MassDEP's Expanded Assistance Program for Free Sampling and Analysis at Schools and Early Education and Care Facilities continues the Commonwealth's nation-leading program by offering free lead testing and technical assistance to eligible public schools as well as public and private group child care facilities. The program is now accepting applications for assistance.
About the Clean Water Trust Since its establishment in 1989, the Clean Water Trust has loaned nearly $8.1 billion to improve and maintain the quality of water in the Commonwealth. An estimated 97 percent of Massachusetts' residents have benefited from the financial assistance of the Trust.