(ALBANY, NY) – In light of concerns over lead in drinking sources at schools across the State, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tom O’Mara announced the passage of their bill that would require schools to test for lead. Earlier this year, Binghamton, Ithaca, and Trumansburg school districts had to shut down drinking water supplies as a result of tests which revealed elevated levels of lead, above state and EPA standards for contamination.
“Given that many of our area schools are located in aging buildings, it’s important that we make sure the water is safe,” said Lupardo (D-Endwell), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families. “This bill will ensure that testing is conducted, problems are remediated, and results and plans are made public. Children have a right to go to school without having to worry about what’s in their water.”
“This is a critical action for school children across all of New York State. There’s not a more important place to start this effort to better address lead contamination than within our schools to protect our children,” said O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “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.”
The bill would mandate testing the drinking water taken from buildings belonging to every school district and the state’s 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) that have not been deemed lead free in accordance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The legislation would require the Departments of Health and Education to create statewide guidelines for school districts and BOCES to test drinking water for lead. The bill also would mandate the test results be disclosed to parents and local and state government agencies. Testing and remediation will be reimbursable through the school building aid formula.