"Safe Drinking Water in Schools Act" Advances to Governor

SB 334 Sets Legal Right to Safe and Clean Drinking Water at Schools

Thursday, September 10, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) prohibiting schools from providing drinking water that does not meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standards for lead passed its final hurdle in the Legislature today and now advances to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration.

SB 334 specifically requires that school districts take steps each school day to provide free, clean and safe drinking water on campus to students, teachers, employees and visitors.

Earlier this year, NBC 4 Los Angeles aired an investigative report where they found that practices at some Los Angeles Unified School District schools may have been insufficient to prevent student exposure to lead-tainted water from old plumbing.  This report was a follow-up to a 2008 investigation where they found high levels of lead in the water at Los Angeles-area schools.

“Students spend many hours on school campuses each school day, so it is vitally important that the drinking water coming from school water fountains is clean and safe,” Senator Leyva said.  “The long overdue legal protection codified by SB 334 will not only guarantee that all people on school campuses have access to clean drinking water, but also improve student nutrition and health.  Parents in the Inland Empire and throughout California deserve to know that the drinking water coming out of the faucets during lunch or at recess is not tainted with dangerous lead and potentially hurting their children.”

Drinking contaminated water in schools is a major health risk to both children and adults. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 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.

During its legislative journey in both the Senate and Assembly, SB 334 has earned the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, California Food Policy Advocates, California Black Health Network, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, Children Now, Clean Water Action California, Community Food & Justice Coalition, Community Water Center, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and Mission: Readiness.