Assembly Passes Legislation to Improve Water Quality in Schools

Speaker Carl Heastie and Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried today announced the Assembly has passed legislation that would improve drinking water quality in schools by strengthening water testing requirements, including increasing the frequency of testing, removing testing exemptions and lowering lead action levels (A.160-B, Gottfried).

“Experts agree that there is no safe level of lead for children, and high levels of lead can be even more devastating for them,” said Speaker Heastie.“This legislation would ensure that appropriate testing is done on a regular basis with no exceptions, and that the data collected is made public and any issues are remedied.”

“Children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure,” said Assemblymember Gottfried. “There is no safe blood lead level for children, and we should do everything we can to reduce lead in school drinking water to the lowest possible level. New York should be a leader in water safety and environmental health. The environmental, public health and school communities have done terrific work in developing and fighting for this bill, and I thank Speaker Heastie for his support.”

This legislation would ensure that drinking water in schools is safe and free of lead contamination by:

  • Increasing required school water testing frequency for lead from “periodic” to triennial;
  • Requiring that safe drinking water be provided by schools districts to school occupants free of charge if lead is detected;
  • Removing testing exemptions for certain schools;
  • Setting the lead action level at 0.005 milligrams per liter;
  • Requiring that laboratory reports be made public as a part of existing disclosure requirements for testing results; and
  • Providing remediation funding through clean water infrastructure programs.