Washington Bill Requires Schools Test Drinking Water for Lead

A Washington bill passed recently that requires local schools to test their drinking water for lead contamination. If any contaminants are discovered, the bill requires that the schools replace the fountain with a new safer source. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Gerry Pollet, finally passing after 3 years of attempts. Another advocate of the bill told Seattle Times that she worried it wouldn’t pass in time. The bill passed by a 94-4 vote mere hours before the cutoff time. The final step in the process is for the governor to sign off on the bill, passing it into law.

Now water outlets in drinking fountains and sinks will be required to be tested every 5 years. The bill includes $3 million for the schools to replace any outlets with lead contamination. A study showed that almost 97% of participating schools in Washington had one contaminated outlet. This study presents the necessity of the new bill so that children may have clean water. This bill will require schools to replace any outlet exceeding 5 parts per billion. Additionally, it allows the school 6 months to remove the contaminated outlet. Local health advocates view the bill as a first step towards healthy water, but encourage further action. Pam Clough, director of Environment Washington, suggested testing the water every year instead of every five. She also suggested that schools should be required to immediately shut down outlets that show contamination. The schools will begin testing swiftly after governor Inslee signs the bill.

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