ALBANY — Schools in New York will have to test drinking water for lead contamination.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law Tuesday that will require the state’s nearly 700 districts to conduct the testing, and he separately ordered the state Health Department to require districts to test the water by Oct. 31.
For elementary schools, the deadline is by the end of September.
The regulations will require schools to report the results to the public, to the state and to local governments, he said.
“These rigorous new protections for New York’s children include the toughest lead contamination testing standards in the nation and provide clear guidance to schools on when and how they should test their water,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The state Legislature passed the bill in June amid growing concerns about lead in water, particularly in schools, because of the impact the chemical can have on childhood development. Hundreds of schools and day cares in the nation failed lead tests between 2012 and 2015, a USA TODAY Network investigation earlier this year found.
Schools across New York have tested positive for high lead levels, including in the lower Hudson Valley.
The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, after high levels of lead were found in some local schools.
The state will pick up most of the tab for the testing and remediation through existing school-aid formulas.
“All of the stakeholders came together to ensure that no child will have unsafe levels of lead in their school drinking water and that school districts will not face an undue financial burden,” Lupardo, D-Endwell, Broome County, said in a statement.
New York, like all states, lacked a standard policy for testing lead in school water.
Schools with wells have been mandated to test drinking water, but not those on municipal systems.
Lawmakers and environmental advocates pressed for […]