Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Education Committee Chair Catherine T. Nolan and Children and Families Committee Chair Donna A. Lupardo today announced that as part of a three-way, end-of-session agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Senate, the Assembly passed legislation today requiring the drinking water in schools be tested for lead.
The agreed upon bill (A.10740; Lupardo, Nolan) 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.
"Lead is such a lethal contaminant and threat to human health, especially to youngsters, that we must make every effort to ensure that the water our school children drink is lead free," said Speaker Heastie. "With this drinking water testing requirement from the state, school districts and BOCES will be better able to identify any problems in the water systems of their buildings and whether remedial work is needed to provide clean and safe drinking water to their students, teachers and staff."
"I commend Assemblymembers Nolan and Lupardo for their collaborative efforts to advance this initiative, which I am confident will have a significant and beneficial impact on protecting the health and wellbeing of school children," added Heastie.
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 and direct state funds to pay for a portion of the testing and remediation costs.
"This mandatory testing for lead in school drinking water will give parents, students and teachers a peace of mind that the water available to them throughout the school day is safe," said Nolan. "This testing requirement should have been in place years ago and sends the message throughout the state that our schools must have access to drinking water that meets the highest health and safety standards."
"Given that many of the schools in New York State are located in aging buildings, it is important that we make sure their water is safe," said Lupardo. "This bill will ensure that testing is conducted, problems are remediated and results and plans are made public."