Payne, Jr. Introduces Bill to Encourage Testing of Drinking Water for Lead in Public Schools

March 23, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) introduced the TEST for Lead Act, which updates the Safe Drinking Water Act to require states that receive certain federal funds to assist public and charter schools in establishing programs to test for lead in drinking water and to disclose the results if elevated lead levels are found.

“Lead in drinking water is never acceptable, especially when it involves children, who are most susceptible to the dangers of lead poisoning,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “As a parent, I want to know that my children are drinking lead-free water, and I want other families to know that about their own children, too. This bill encourages transparent monitoring of school drinking water, so that we can do our job of keeping our children safe.” 

Earlier this month, 30 Newark Public Schools were forced to shut down their drinking water after elevated lead levels were discovered. While some school districts, including Newark, test their drinking water, they are not required to do so by law. Congressman Payne, Jr.’s legislation addresses this water testing gap by requiring any state that receives funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which provides federal funding for safe water programs, to work with public and charter schools to implement lead-testing programs. 

The TEST for Lead Act, or Transparent Environment in School Testing for Lead Act, would:

  • Amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to condition a State’s receipt of funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which provides federal funding for safe water programs, on the State carrying out a program to test for lead in drinking water for schools;
  • Require participating schools to test drinking water, including water from faucets used for food preparation, sinks in bathrooms, and water fountains, at least biannually at schools built prior to 1996 and at least annually at schools built in 1996 or after; and
  • Require local education agencies with jurisdiction over the participating schools to notify parents, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the State within 48 hours if a level of lead that exceeds a lead action level, as identified by the EPA, is discovered.

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