Senate approves $20 million for lead testing in schools
By: Brian Tumulty
WASHINGTON – The Senate approved a water resources bill Thursday that authorizes $20 million nationally to help school districts cover the cost of testing their drinking water for lead contamination.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law earlier this month that requires all public school districts in the state to test their drinking water by Oct. 31. Elementary schools face an earlier deadline of Sept. 30.
The Senate bill, approved 95-3, wouldn’t help with those costs for the current school year but could become a funding source in future years.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., authored the provision in response to the Ithaca school system’s discovery of lead in schools’ drinking water. Schumer said he envisions his measure becoming an annual federal grant program run by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is imperative that we provide a steady stream of support for the schools in New York and around our country to test the quality of our kids’ drinking water,’’ Schumer said in a statement. “We worked hard to pass a bill that addresses the yawning gap in our national lead-testing protocols, and now I’m hopeful that my bill will earn strong bipartisan support in the House and quickly become law.”