Public-private alliance announced to reduce lead in drinking water of schools, preschools

AWWA, EPA, Department of Education sign pact to reduce lead in drinking water at schools, child-care facilities. New AWWA report helps utilities communicate with schools on lead...

SAN FRANCISCO, June 15, 2005 -- A "Memorandum of Understanding" signed this week by the American Water Works Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and other water organizations seeks to reduce children's exposure to lead from drinking water at schools and child-care facilities, AWWA announced today at its Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE05).

The Memorandum of Understanding states that the signing organizations will encourage schools and child-care facilities to test drinking water for lead, share results with parents and others, and take steps to correct problems. Signatories will also encourage the drinking water community to inform schools and child-care facilities in their efforts to understand and reduce lead exposure from drinking water.

"AWWA's new report -- 'Assisting Schools and Child Care Facilities in Addressing Lead in Drinking Water' (May, 2005) -- is a significant step toward realizing the actions specified in the Memorandum of Understanding," said Jack W. Hoffbuhr, AWWA executive director. "AWWA recognized the need early on to get information to our member utilities to assist them in interacting with schools and child-care facilities. AWWA is hopeful this joint effort with our partner organizations will add additional momentum to our individual efforts."

Other associations signing the agreement include the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, the National Association of Water Companies and the National Rural Water Association.

While lead is rarely present in water leaving treatment plants or traveling through distribution systems, it can leach into drinking water from lead plumbing, solders and fixtures. Therefore, testing water at the tap in schools or child-care facilities is the best way to determine if the facilities have elevated lead levels.

Lead is a significant health concern, particularly for young children. High levels of lead can impair mental development. While a child's greatest exposure to lead is typically from contaminated paint, dirt and dust, lead in drinking water can contribute to overall lead exposure.

"AWWA is committed to helping implement the actions involved in the Memorandum of Understanding to reduce children's overall exposure to lead," Hoffbuhr said.

Established in 1881, AWWA is the oldest and largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to safe water in North America. AWWA has over 57,000 members worldwide and its 4,700 utility members serve 80% of America's population.

In related news at the AWWA website, see: "Minimizing Public Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water"

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