Proposed bill to Get the Lead out of School Drinking Water (HB 1139) received public hearing in WA House Education Committee

Media Contacts

John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Washington

OLYMPIA, Wa. — Today, the Washington House Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1139, a bill sponsored by Rep. Gerry Pollet to address lead contamination in school drinking water.

Environment Washington’s Director Pam Clough offered the following testimony:

“In 2021, many kids will be returning to in-person learning but unfortunately, this means they may face another public health threat- lead in school drinking water. Lead harms the way our kids learn, grow and behave, even at low levels. Unfortunately, lead contamination of our school’s water is widespread in Washington as confirmed by our own research.

“The source of this problem is that we have built faucets, fountains, and water delivery systems in our schools with lead in them. The only way to solve this problem is to get the lead out. That means replacing lead-bearing parts and installing filters certified to remove lead.

“This bill would be a big step in the right direction by setting a limit of 5 parts per billion in drinking water. The bill should make clear that schools would then shut off taps contaminated with lead while developing remediation plans. Given the toxicity of lead, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an even lower standard of 1 part per billion. So really, the 5 ppb standard in this bill is a compromise.

“Jurisdictions as diverse as Washington DC and the state of Montana have already adopted a 5 ppb standard. Why aren’t we giving Washington kids at least this level of protection already?

“In an analysis by Env. Washington, we looked at state policies across the country to see how schools are doing at protecting kids from lead in drinking water. Washington received an F. It’s time we stop failing Washington’s kids and get the lead out of school drinking water.”