Lead in school drinking water in Colorado gets some attention from bill that pays for testing

Author: Joey Bunch - May 11, 2017 - Updated: July 31, 2017

Lawmakers got the lead out in the final hours of the session. (Come on, I couldn’t let that go.) They passed a bill to help school systems pay for testing to see if their drinking water has lead in it.

House Bill 1306 puts up $300,000 a year for schools to test their water, by putting up a 10 percent local match. The oldest schools get the highest priority.

Seven of Colorado’s 178 school districts have tested their water for lead, and 100 schools discovered lead. The toxic metal can affect organs, the nervous system and reproductive system, as well as affect brain function.

“It’s a great thing we can do for education and our kids’ future.” Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement.

“Testing is a good thing and I’m grateful this bipartisan bill will help to ensure safer drinking water for our children,” added the bill’s other House sponsor,  Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs.

Conservation Colorado provided statements from proponents:

“Clean water in our schools is an expectation everyone in Colorado can get behind. As a public health professional, but more importantly as a parent, I’m happy to see our state moving in the right direction for our kids’ safety.”
— Brian Turner, president of the Colorado Public Health Association.

“There are no safe levels of lead. The recent crisis in Flint, Mich., brought the nation’s attention to this environmental hazard, though lead toxicity has always been a public health challenge. We fully support our state proactively addressing this risk to keep Colorado kids safe.”
— Dan Nicklas, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“We recognize our school districts are badly underfunded and cannot perform this important work for student safety without assistance. We appreciate our legislators for stepping forward with funding to help older schools meet the challenge of providing safe learning conditions for their students.”
— Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association.

“A safe environment is a human right. We’re thrilled that legislators from both sides of the aisle stood up for Colorado kids and will help keep them safe from lead pollution.”
— Kristin Green, Water Advocate at Conservation Colorado.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.

One comment

  • seth richardson

    May 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    The real question is “how much lead.” The corollary question is “did the EPA lower the lead and arsenic standards so much that it’s now costing communities nationwide billions of dollars to try to comply with a standard that does not actually identify a credible risk to anyone?”

    There’s a good deal of dispute whether the new standards actually address an actual problem that actually harms anyone.

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