All kids, no matter where they live, should have access to safe drinking water in school. Drinking water in place of sugary drinks is important for helping kids grow up at a healthy weight and promoting oral health, but water must be safe to drink. Reports of lead contamination have emerged in schools and communities across the country. The focus on this issue is deserved: even at low levels, lead exposure is harmful, especially for young children.
New research from National Drinking Water Alliance allies at the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California examined states’ efforts to test for lead in school drinking water.
The president recently signed into law a bill that includes items of interest to drinking water advocates. S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) is the 2018 authorization for the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). AWIA, passed in the Senate by a 99-1 vote, was sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and developed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
As POLITICO wrote on October 11, 2018, “It's arguably the biggest infrastructure accomplishment in the first two years of the Trump administration … It also reauthorizes the Safe Drinking Water Act for the first time in two decades and includes a new requirement that smaller communities monitor their water for emerging contaminants.”
The bill’s budget authorizations and amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act include:
VOLUNTARY SCHOOL AND CHILD CARE PROGRAM LEAD TESTING GRANT PROGRAM ENHANCEMENTSection 2006
The online toolkit is organized into seven modules and includes customizable templates, and checklists and other tools to help schools and child care facilities to develop and implement a lead testing program. EPA is hosting a webinar on October 25 to introduce the new toolkit. Click here to register.
Additional toolkit features:
Provides a more nuanced discussion of the Action Level (the content of lead in tap water that should trigger action)
The recent passage of Assembly Bill 2370 marks another step ahead for Californians’ drinking water, making it the eighth state in nation to call statewide attention to childcare drinking water safety.
The bill, authored by Assemblymembers Chris Holden and Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, and sponsored by the Environmental Working Group, is aimed at reducing lead exposure in drinking water in California licensed childcare centers. One in seven people in the U.S. live in California and 70 percent of children in licensed care go to licensed childcare centers.
AB 2370 requires a licensed child day care center that is located in a building that was constructed before January 1, 2010 to have its drinking water tested for lead contamination levels on a specified schedule. It also requires centers to notify parents or legal guardians of children enrolled in the day care center of the requirement to test the drinking water and the results of the test.
Building on a statewide program to test school drinking water for lead, the Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Network (BANPAC) supported 11 San Francisco Bay Area schools in testing and promoting drinking water last school year.
The Drinking Water Promotion Project (DWAPP) piloted an innovative model that convened a committee of water experts, including researchers and representatives from local water utilities, health departments, and non-profits, to develop a systematic approach for drinking water testing and promotion.
School champions, primarily teachers who serve on the school wellness committee, were recruited at 11 schools throughout the Bay Area. The DWAPP program coordinator provided each school champion with a water promotion plan, package of ready-to-use materials, and a small amount of funding to support water promotion efforts. School champions selected activities that matched their school’s needs and interests. Activities included poster and water bottle log...
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigates current school practices for lead testing and remediation in drinking water.
In the GAO’s stratified, random sample of 549 school districts in the U.S., 43% of districts surveyed indicated they had tested for lead in school drinking water. Of the school districts that tested, 37% found elevated lead levels. School districts undertook a variety of actions to remediate lead in school drinking water, including replacing fixtures, permanently removing fixtures from service, flushing and installing filters.
The report also details existing state-level efforts to require schools to test for lead in drinking water or provide school districts with funding or other support for testing and remediation. The GAO looked at existing guidance from the EPA and how familiar school districts around the country are with these guidelines.
The report detailed seven recommendations for the federal government, including providing...