The New York State Senate today passed a measure to protect children from potentially being exposed to dangerous lead levels in school drinking water. The bill (S7103C), sponsored by Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) ensures that periodic tap water testing for lead is conducted by schools to obtain important information about the quality of students’ drinking water.
Senator O’Mara, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “There’s not a more important place to start this overall and ongoing effort to better address lead contamination than within our schools to protect children. The increasing incidents of lead contamination in school drinking water systems demand that we take short- and long-term actions to strengthen testing, reporting and remediation requirements.”
According to the state Department of Health (DOH), lead can harm a young child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. While some schools in New York conduct testing for lead, not all do, and this bill would create a standard testing protocol to ensure students are protected. School districts and BOCES would undergo periodic tap testing at a frequency to be set by DOH. Buildings built after 2014 will be exempt, schools testing negative would be given waivers, and schools with water containing unacceptable amounts of lead would be eligible for additional financial assistance for the costs of testing and remediation.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.