In a continuing effort to ensure safe drinking water in schools across the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust voted today to expand the previously approved Lead in School Drinking Water Assistance Program to include Head Start and special education programs around the state. There are currently 169 Head Start programs and 111 special education programs approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. \n\n\u00a0\u201cThe inclusion of Head Start and special education programs highlights our commitment to ensure that every student in Massachusetts has access to safe, clean drinking water,\u201d said Treasurer Goldberg, chair of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. \u201cI am proud to work collaboratively to provide these programs the funds they need to test water in their buildings.\u201d\n\nThe program is designed to encourage more schools to perform lead and copper testing with the help of experts at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Under current federal and state laws, testing in schools is voluntary and this program is designed to help schools implement effective testing programs and take water samples, educate them about how to address elevated lead and copper levels, and provide water quality information to the school community.\n\n\u201cWe are pleased to be able to extend this technical assistance and water sampling program to allow even more schools and parents to participate,\u201d said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. \u201cOur expanded assistance program provides these school communities with the readily accessible and transparent information that they need to be fully informed about the water quality present in their own school.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe Lead in School Drinking Water Program provides key funding to support clean water in the Commonwealth\u2019s communities,\u201d said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. \u201cThe vote today to expand eligibility to include special education and Head Start programs is an important step in continuing to protect the health and safety of all of the Commonwealth\u2019s students.\u201d\n\nThe Massachusetts Clean Water Trust lends financial assistance to the Commonwealth under the State Revolving Fund program by providing subsidized loans to cities and towns for clean water and drinking water infrastructure development. Since its establishment in 1989, the Trust has loaned approximately $7 billion to improve and maintain the quality of water in the Commonwealth. An estimated 97 percent of Massachusetts\u2019 citizens have benefited from the financial assistance of the Clean Water Trust.