A new grant program to help schools replace water fountains contaminated by lead will open on Monday, making up to $3,000 per fixture available to schools that have been tested.

Clean Water Trust Deputy Director Nate Kennan told the House Bonding Committee on Tuesday that the "SWIG" program, which was announced several weeks ago, is a follow-up to the state's lead testing efforts in schools that began in 2016. The trust hopes to be able to replace enough fixtures in schools to improve the quality of drinking water for 325,000 students.

Kennan and Deputy Treasurer Sue Perez, the executive director of the Clean Water Trust, offered the committee an overview of the programs it runs, which are focused on providing low-interest financing for cities and towns to advance drinking and wastewater projects that will improve public health and energy efficiency.

Perez said that in fiscal 2020 the trust approve $518 million for wastewater projects and $163 million for drinking water. State and federal Environmental Protection Agency funds are used to finance the loan subsidies.

The trust is also looking to maximize funding approved in the fall by the Legislature to remove PFAS contaminants from water and help municipalities finance the private replacement of lead service lines, Kennan said.

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Executive Director Fred Laskey testified later in the hearing that the MWRA has no PFAS contaminants in its system.

Committee Chair Antonio Cabral asked Perez to look into whether the trust had any capacity to issue more grants, instead of low-interest financing, to further reduce the financial burden on communities to pursue water infrastructure improvement. - Matt Murphy/SHNS | 1/28/20 12:49 PM