Senate Education Committee Approves "Safe Drinking Water in Schools Act"
SB 334 Requires Testing of Drinking Water at Schools
SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, critical legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will require testing of drinking water at schools in California to ensure water quality and safety passed from the Senate Education Committee with bipartisan support.
Beyond the testing requirement, SB 334 would also require school districts to notify parents, staff and students of the water quality test results. Moreover, where water issues are found, schools districts must ensure that their students have access to clean water.
Recently, 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.
“Since students spend many of their waking hours during weekdays at school, it is critically important that we ensure that drinking water coming from school water fountains is clean and safe,” Senator Leyva said. “SB 334 is a vital step to determining which schools in the Inland Empire and throughout California may have unsafe drinking water. This school water testing requirement—and public disclosure of those results—will help to improve student nutrition and health, as well as guarantee that all people on school campuses have access to clean drinking water.”
Drinking unclean water in schools is a major health risk to both children and adults. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to lead and other contaminants is a significant health concern for young children, in particular, as they are more susceptible than adults to their harmful effects. The EPA has particular concern for schools where plumbing materials may contain lead and urges testing water at school sites.
Following today’s approval by the Senate Education Committee, the Senate Environmental Quality Committee will next consider SB 334.