Senator Leyva Introduces “Clean Water in Schools Act”

SB 210 Prioritizes Schools to Receive Clean Water Grants

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) introduced a critical bill to ensure that K-12 students across California have access to clean drinking water at school.

Specifically, SB 210 would give schools that test their water and have contamination problems priority when applying for clean water relief grants. The bill would also require schools that find significant sources of lead or other harmful contaminants in their water to cut off access to contaminated water sources, provide alternative clean water, and notify parents, staff, and students about water issues present at the school site.

In 2015, NBC 4 Los Angeles aired an investigative report which found that the Los Angeles Unified School District may still have lead-tainted water at some of their schools due to old plumbing. In the Inland Empire, Chino Valley Unified School District had also identified issues with lead in their drinking water in 2013. While these individual problems have been fixed, they represent examples of what could be a larger problem that has thus far gone undetected.

“Parents across the country and California—particularly in disadvantaged areas—continue to be concerned that their children might be exposed to dirty drinking water. From schools in Flint, Michigan to those in California communities, lead contaminated water has disrupted the lives and education of children,” Senator Leyva said. “It is vital that, as soon as schools find out that their water is contaminated, they close access to those water sources and be transparent about their prompt efforts to fix the problem. By incentivizing schools to test water sources and address contamination through better access to state grants, SB 210 will help to protect our kids from drinking unsafe drinking water.”

Senator Leyva introduced SB 334 in 2015 which sought to require that schools test their water sources and provide children with clean water.  Despite strong bipartisan support, Governor Brown vetoed the bill and directed the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to develop testing procedures for schools.  SWRCB recently announced that it is requiring all community water systems to test school drinking water for free upon request by the school’s officials. However, under current law, schools are not required to act upon a notice of lead or other contaminants in their water system.

Following today’s introduction, the Senate Rules Committee will soon assign SB 210 to the appropriate policy committee(s).