News Feature | February 7, 2019

Florida Bill Could Require Schools To Filter Water For Lead Contamination

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Lead contamination in drinking water, caused by corroded service lines that introduce the constituent after water has been treated but before it reaches consumers, continues to plague cities around the country. Florida lawmakers have now proposed a new solution to the problem for their state’s public schools.

“A bill introduced by Sens. Janet Cruz, Lauren Book and Annette Taddeo would require public schools to filter drinking water at the source on campuses built before 1986,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported. “The filters would have to remove lead.”

The bill would also require filtering at sinks used for food preparation and cooking in cafeterias. If a public school’s water source is not being filtered, that would have to be indicated by a sign. The bill also requires that districts list their drinking water sources online and indicate when filters were installed and when they will be replaced, and that bar codes are installed on all school drinking water sources.

Though protecting children from exposure to lead — which is known to cause adverse health effects — is likely to be a popular initiative, implementing the bill may be onerous and expensive.

“A Duval County Public School spokeswoman said more than 65 percent of schools in the district are over 50 years old based on their original construction dates,” per News 4. “The change to school water fountains could be an expensive one. Previous estimates show that filtering water fountains in Florida’s schools could cost around $24 million.”

To get a more precise sense of the costs and benefits of implementing the bill, it’s currently undergoing a full analysis. Depending on how much the measures will cost to implement and how effective they prove to be in protecting children if the bill is passed, Florida’s legislation may provide a national model — at least until outdated drinking water infrastructure can be updated.

To read more about legislation to prevent lead contamination in drinking water, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.