Councilmember Cheh continues effort to set a national standard for the testing and remediation of lead-contaminated water
The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Evans, White, Jr., McDuffie, Bonds, Allen, Todd, and Nadeau
Washington, D.C. — Today, January 10th, Councilmember Cheh re-introduced the “Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Amendment Act of 2017.” The bill amends the Healthy Schools Act and the Healthy Tots Act to strengthen the requirements for lead testing and remediation in the District’s public schools, public charter schools, licensed child development facilities, and District Parks and Recreation (DPR) facilities. The previous version of this bill was introduced on July 12th, 2016 after a group of concerned parents revealed a communication failure between DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Department of General Services (DGS) wherein parents were not notified of months-old test results of elevated lead levels in DCPS water sources and lapses in the District’s testing protocol for lead in public schools.
“Children in the District of Columbia deserve access to safe, clean drinking water, and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive –rather than reactive, strategy towards lead control in our public water sources. This bill provides the framework to protect children from lead-contaminated water by establishing a procedure to locate and remediate lead-contaminated drinking sources while making the test results and plan publicly available. Once passed, the District will implement this procedure at our public schools and DPR facilities. After May 1st, 2018, public charter schools and childhood development facilities will be held to the same standard,” said Councilmember Cheh.
Specifically, this bill instructs DGS to:
- Test all drinking water sources in public schools and DPR facilities.
- If the water lead concentration is found to exceed 1 part per billion (ppb), that water source will be shut off within 24 hours.
- DGS will then notify DCPPS or DPR of the test results and establish a remediation plan that will most likely include the installation of a lead-certified water filtration system.
- Post the filter information, test results, and remediation efforts online.
As of May 1st, 2018, public charter schools and childhood development facilities will also be required to annually test drinking water sources and install and maintain filter systems at drinking water sources with lead concentrations exceeding 1 ppb. Public charter schools and childhood development facilities will also be required to make the test results and remediation efforts publicly available. To assist childhood development facilities comply with the law, the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) will provide child development facilities with a list of contractors and will reimburse those facilities for the costs associated with filter installation.
“Lead in our children’s drinking water is an urgent concern and it is our responsibility to ensure that children in our care are not unduly exposed to this hazard. The best way to address this issue as quickly as possible is actively identify drinking water sources that pose a risk, install and properly maintain lead-certified filters at those locations, and have a process in place for immediate communication with parents and community members. With these new requirements, we are not only setting a national standard, but we are remedying previous shortcomings in protecting District children,” said Councilmember Cheh.