Michigan adopts strongest laws to get the lead out of schools’ water

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John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

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Our kids need safe drinking water.

Filters on water stations proven to cut down on lead exposure

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a trio of bills on Thursday to prevent lead contamination of water in schools and child care facilities. By requiring installation of water stations with filters certified to remove lead, the new legislation gives Michigan the strongest policy in the nation, according to Environment America Research & Policy Center’s  Get The Lead Out report, which grades all 50 states’ laws on the matter.

Across the nation, lead contamination of schools’ water is widespread, and Michigan is no exception. Lead was found in the water at 89% of Michigan school  and child care buildings tested from 2020 to 2022, according to an analysis by Safe Water Engineering. The result is not surprising because many fountains, faucets and valves have been made with enough lead to contaminate water. 

Environment Michigan joined a broad coalition supporting the legislation – HB4341, HB4342 and SB88 – which passed with strong bipartisan support in the Michigan Legislature. The bills were sponsored by Rep. Ranjeev Puri (Canton) and Rep. Cynthia Neeley (Flint) and Sen. Sylvia Santana (Detroit).

National parent and teacher organizations are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt similar policies when it updates the Lead & Copper Rule in November.

In response to the new Michigan laws, John Rumpler, clean water director at Environment America issued the following statement.  

“Our kids need safe drinking water when they go to school to learn and play each day. Yet sadly, lead contamination of water at school is widespread. It’s time to get the lead out.

“Passage of this legislation vaults Michigan to the head of the class on policies to ensure safe water at school. By preventing contamination at every tap, the Michigan “filter first” bills are much more effective than other state laws, which only fix outlets after lead is detected above a certain level. Public health experts note that there is no safe level of lead. We commend Governor Whitmer and the state legislature for their bold leadership on this issue.”

As the U.S. EPA considers updates to the Lead & Copper Rule, we urge it to incorporate the best prevention policies already enacted in the states — including these laws passed in Michigan and New Jersey’s 10-year deadline to fully replace all lead service lines.”

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