Testimony on Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
Remarks of Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
As prepared for delivery:
Chairs Dykema and Rausch, thank you for the opportunity to testify today in support of H. 906/S. 580, An Act ensuring safe drinking water in schools, filed by Representative Ehrlich and Senator Lovely.
Protecting the health and safety of our children is a top priority for me and my team. Exposure to lead and copper, even at low levels, permanently and negatively impacts the brain development of our youngest residents.
As Chair of The Clean Water Trust (or, "Trust"), I have partnered with the EPA, MassDEP, and MWRA to support the testing of drinking water in schools and childcare centers and to assist schools in making sure that students have access to safe drinking water.
Under current federal and state laws, testing in schools is voluntary. To incentivize testing, The Trust designed a program that offered financial assistance to public schools and childcare centers to implement effective testing programs. This program also provided education about how to address elevated levels of these dangerous chemicals.
The Trust has since launched the School Water Improvement Grant Program (or "SWIG"), which provides money directly to districts that have tested their drinking water through the Trust's program. These funds allow schools to purchase and install water bottle filling stations.
The SWIG pilot round resulted in the award of $954,000 in grants to replace 318 water fountains in 128 schools serving over 69,000 students across the Commonwealth.
The Trust was awarded a grant from the EPA for $2.9 million to expand the SWIG program to include private schools, childcare facilities, and early education facilities.
MassDEP and The Trust plan on announcing information for a new SWIG funding round in November. This round will focus on childcare facilities, early education facilities and elementary schools with priority going to disadvantaged communities.
The proposed legislation will support The Trust's efforts to identify and eliminate these harmful chemicals in all schools and early education centers across the state.
I look forward to working with Representative Ehrlich, Senator Lovely, and this Committee to make sure that our children have access to safe drinking water.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify before you today. I am happy to take any questions that you may have.