New York may soon be the first state in the nation to require lead testing for water in schools.
The bill came from two Southern Tier sponsors: Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) and State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats), after several area schools tested positive for high levels of lead contamination. The bill passed on Saturday. It mandates schools to keep lead contamination within levels deemed safe by the EPA. The bill came after several schools in the area, such as Ithaca and Binghamton, tested positive for dangerous amounts of lead.
Mike Ginalski is Superintendent of the Corning-Painted Post School District. Ginalski said Corning began testing water levels back in March, after parents in the district had concerns in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Out of 253 samples tested in Corning, 22 water samples contained levels of lead deemed unsafe by the EPA. The Corning school district made renovations to their water systems and Ginalski said they are now in the clear.
However, Ginalski said lead testing in schools should be federally regulated. He said districts nationwide have old buildings, which makes it difficult to prevent lead contamination.
After the tests, Ginalski said the Corning school district was able to replace drinking fountains, sinks, and address all concerns. "At this point, we're in great shape," he said.
Schools are required to inform parents about the results of lead testing, and if levels are too high, the system must be fixed and re-tested. State funds will reimburse schools on water testing costs, which on average costs under $10,000.
Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law, which would take effect in the upcoming school year.