New Measures Would Require Minnesota Schools to Test Water for Lead

March 03, 2017 10:37 AM

A Woodbury lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require Minnesota schools to test water for lead after a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation exposed in September that nearly one out of four public schools surveyed were not following state guidelines.

“I was alarmed, plus my kids -- I have kids at the public school,” said Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, after watching the investigations. “You never think the water they are drinking at the school could be contaminated.”

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RELATED: Kids at Risk: Minnesota Schools Failing to Follow Guidelines on Testing for Lead in Water 

The Minnesota Department of Health suggests schools on public water systems test fixures for lead once every five years, though the testing is not required under state law.

“I'm a former teacher," Fenton said. "That is alarming to me. You don’t know where the contamination will be, but you know the profound impact it has on children if they have lead poisoning on brain development, intellectual development, and memory."

RELATED: Senator Concerned About Lack of Minn. Schools Testing for Lead in Water

The measure, H.F. 1698, would require all Minnesota K-12 public schools to test for lead beginning in 2018 and in each of the three following years. It then would require testing every five years, and that parents be notified of the findings.

"It's common sense and good governance, and protects the safety of our kids and the water resources that they drink from the school buildings," Fenton said. “This doesn’t have to be an unfunded mandate to our school districts -- that was important to me as well.”

RELATED: North Metro School District Plans New Lead Water Testing

Fenton said the price of testing could come out of a fund already set aside for long-term facilities maintenance.

A second bill, H.F. 1846, filed by Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, would take school water lead testing further, to include pre-k centers, k-12 schools and charters.



Eric Chaloux

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