District Receives $5M Grant to Expand Healthy Drinking Water
PHILADELPHIA – The School District of Philadelphia has received a grant of nearly $5 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help accelerate efforts to provide abundant and equitable access to filtered drinking water in our schools and buildings.
The $4,999,658 grant, under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, will expand the District’s work to reduce exposure to lead through drinking water. The grant will cover the purchase and installation of 755 new filtered hydration stations, where students and staff can fill bottles with healthy, refreshing water. The funding also covers kitchen sink filters, water sampling, as well as training and education related to drinking water safety.
This additional funding will help the District’s goal of having one filtered hydration station per every 100 students, and at least one on each floor of every school building. More than 1,500 hydration stations have been installed throughout the District since 2017, when the District implemented a GreenFutures sustainability initiative to promote greater access and appeal to quality drinking water.
“We are grateful to the EPA for its confidence in our plan for installing additional hydration stations to improve environmental safety in our schools,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. “This grant will allow us to expand and accelerate this important work to reduce risk and keep our students well hydrated, which is so important for growing, healthy minds and bodies.”
The District will work with its existing partner, Terraphase Engineering, a national environmental engineering firm with expertise in lead in drinking water school programs, on a four-year plan funded by the grant. Terraphase’s work will include testing of all drinking water outlets, remediation of outlets of 10 parts per billion (ppb) or higher of lead and installation of hydration stations. The city’s lead in water standard of 10 ppb is even more rigorous than the EPA’s 15 ppb.
Philadelphia is one of the most economically disadvantaged large cities in the U.S., and many of its 1.5 million residents live in neighborhoods constructed well before 1950 when lead and lead compounds were commonly found in paint, ceramics, pipes, and plumbing. Nearly 200,000 children living in Philadelphia will benefit from the work funded by this grant.
For more information about the District’s Safe Water Testing Program, please visit this website.