Four towns getting filtered water filling stations for schools

  • AP PHOTO/JIM COLE  AP PHOTO/JIM COLE

Staff Writer
Published: 4/30/2020 3:37:52 PM

AMHERST — School buildings in Amherst, Holyoke, South Hadley and Greenfield where tests have revealed elevated levels of lead in the drinking water will be getting water filtration technology installed as the result of a state grant.

On Wednesday, the trustees for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust approved grants from the School Water Improvement Grant program, totaling $675,000, that will be used in 32 school districts across the state for buying filtered water bottle filling stations.

The program encourages communities to test school drinking water for lead and address elevated levels with help from state experts.

“This is critical work for many communities and I appreciate the commitment of everyone involved to protect the health and safety our children,” State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, chairwoman of the trust, said in a statement.

Amherst’s public schools are receiving $30,000 to purchase and install 10 bottle filling stations, eight of which will be used in the elementary school buildings and two at the regional school buildings shared with Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury. Holyoke will be getting five stations for $15,000, South Hadley four for $12,000, and Greenfield five for $15,000.

Those new water stations will be among 225 revamped fixtures in 95 schools, serving more than 53,000 students in the state, paid for by the grant program.

The School Water Improvement Grant program is funded through a $5 million appropriation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker and approved by the Legislature. Each of the school districts benefiting from the grants has participated in the state’s lead testing program or other comparable testing for drinking water fixtures.

In 2016, communities received test results for lead and copper under the state’s voluntary Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water program, a $2.75 million program in which the state Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Massachusetts Amherst coordinated to take water samples from nearly 1,000 schools across the state.

In Hampshire County, 21 out of 25 participating schools were found to have high levels of lead in at least one fixture, often when samples of water were tested after being in the pipes for eight to 18 hours.

Statewide, 72 percent of school buildings had at least one fixture that tested high for either lead or copper.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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