Apr 20, 2021

Washington Bill To Curb Lead in School Drinking Water Makes Progress

House Bill 1139 passed the Senate and will head to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk for a signature, impacting lead in water in Washington's schools


Washington state is in the process of making sure children have access to safe drinking water at school.

House Bill 1139, sponsored by state Rep. Gerry Pollet, passed the Senate and will then head to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk for a signature, according to King 5 News.

Schools will be required to test water outlets including drinking fountains, bathroom sinks and those used to prepare lunch in schools built before 2016.

The state Department of Health (DOH) will conduct the tests and schools are also allowed to contract with private testing companies. There is a requirement to test every five years and post results publicly on DOH’s website, notifying parents when high levels of lead are found. 

Schools will be required to begin testing their drinking water and coming up with an action plan if there is an elevated lead level shortly after the bill takes effect. Private schools are exempt from the requirement. Charter schools, the state School for the Blind and the state School for the Deaf are not exempt, however, reported The Columbia Basin Herald.

"When we send our children to school, there shouldn't be lead in the water they're drinking every day,” said Pollet, reported King 5 News. "There is no such thing as a safe level of lead in your water.”

According to a University of Washington analysis based on sampling by the DOH, out of 551 elementary schools, 82% have at least one faucet with lead levels higher than the adopted standards.

Pollet added that the state will allocate grant funding for the necessary fixes. The DOH was appropriated $1 million in the fiscal 2019 to 2021 biennium to continue the testing for lead contamination in school drinking water, according to the bill.

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