Senator Leyva: "Safe Drinking Water in Schools Act" Critical Step to Protecting Children's Health

SB 334 Helps Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Students, Employees in Schools

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) recently introduced legislation that will require yearly testing of drinking water at schools in California to ensure water quality and safety.

Currently, the extent of ongoing water quality issues at school sites throughout the Inland Empire and California remains largely unknown and unaddressed.  SB 334 requires that, where schools find that their water is not clean, school districts must provide alternative sources of clean water.  

Just last week, NBC 4 Los Angeles aired an investigative report where they found that the Los Angeles Unified School District may be allowing ongoing exposure of lead-tainted water to students and school staff from old plumbing.  This report was a follow-up to a 2008 investigation where they found high levels of lead at Los Angeles-area schools.

Beyond the annual water testing requirement, SB 334 would increase the number of water sources available on school campuses to one source per 100 students.  Currently, 38 of 50 states require at least one fountain per 100 students, while California requires a less stringent standard (one per first 150 students and one per each 300 thereafter). A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that water access is greater in states where schools provide an increased student to fountain ratio.  

Water consumption and proper hydration is essential to students’ health and academic performance. About 30 percent of school age children in the state are overweight or obese which increases risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, amongst others.

“SB 334 is critical legislation that will help ensure that California’s schoolchildren, as well as school employees and other visitors, remain safe while drinking water on school campuses throughout the state,” Senator Leyva said.  “As policymakers, we must define the scope of the potential problem by requiring schools to annually test their drinking water so that we can be informed and directly tackle situations where schoolchildren may not have access to water that is potable and safe.   In order to be able to concentrate and remain fully engaged both inside and outside the classroom, students need to be able to access clean drinking water in various locations on school grounds.”