U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer recently announced the Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation which will help New York State school districts test for lead.

The legislation was included in the Water Resource Development Act and is awaiting the president’s signature. The bill will establish at $20 million federal grant program for schools that choose to test for lead beyond this school year and the funding is authorized through 2021 which totals $100 million in grants.

Schumer, D-NY, said the funding is the first step in implementing the legislature and plans on fighting for future appropriate of the funding.

“Our first priority must be keeping New York State children’s drinking water safe when they are at school and day care, and this legislation will do just that,” he said. “We can no longer sit back and watch as far too many New Yorker kids live with the hazardous lead in their water. That’s exactly why I introduced this legislation and fought tooth and nail to make the Lead Testing School and Child Care Drinking Water Act a reality.

“The passage of this bill is a major victory for children across New York. It is high-time we provided a steady stream of support for the schools in New York and around our country to test the quality of our kids’ drinking water – this $100 million federal investment will do just that.”

Several schools throughout Chautauqua County have reported high-lead figures after New York State mandated lead testing for all school districts. All across the state, districts were required to test water fixtures this year with acceptable lead limits at or below 15 parts per billion. Jamestown Public, Frewsburg Central, Ripley Central, Cassadaga Central and Brocton Central school districts have release all or partial reports regarding their lead testing results.

The districts have all reported fixtures with lead levels over the state limit, and have begun measures to remedy the situation.

Schumer said that reports of lead at Ithaca School District in the summer and the other discoveries in Upstate New York pointed out that lead pipes could still be contaminating water from both independent and public water sources which could taint the water children drink.

He said more resources and financial incentives need to be provided to states like New York so communities can better protect their children and workers when they are at school. He added that the new annual grant program will encourage schools to apply for federal funding year-in and year-out.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, was also glad to hear of the legislation’s passage.

“I’m very pleased that the Lead Testing School and Child Care Drinking Water Act passed the Senate today,” Gillibrand said. “No New Yorker should have to send their child to school or daycare worried that the drinking water is tainted with lead. This bill would help protect the health of the youngest New Yorkers, and I look forward to seeing it signed into law by the President.”

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