LANSING – A broad range of health professionals, conservation and environmental organizations, childhood lead poisoning prevention advocates and civil rights groups today hailed bipartisan legislation introduced in the state House and Senate that would ensure kids have safe water to drink through a comprehensive program to install filters on drinking and cooking water sources in schools and childcare centers.
The bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced today by Sen. Curt Vanderwall (R-Ludington) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and Reps. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.) and Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint).
“Every child deserves a safe and healthy learning environment,” said Jamie Brown, RN, President of Michigan Nurses Association. “We know that lead in water is a serious threat to children’s development. This plan will go a long way toward making sure schools and daycares have the knowledge and tools to help all children succeed.”
The legislation would do the following:
- Ensure schools and daycares assess water quality and create safe drinking water plans with guidance from the Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).
- Following a phase in period, schools and daycares would be required to install filtered drinking water outlets and on-tap filters and ensure non-filtered outlets are removed or not used.
- Require schools and daycares to test their water annually and replace filters as needed.
- Create a fund within EGLE for the department to make grants to all public schools as well as daycares in low-income communities to cover the cost of additional requirements of the bills.
“Here in Michigan, surrounded by 90% of the nation’s surface freshwater, all children should have drinking water that is free of lead and other toxic contaminants,” said Nick Occhipinti, government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Clean, safe drinking water is not a partisan issue, and we applaud the sponsors of this important legislation that will ensure kids across the state have clean water to drink at school.”
Certified filters have been demonstrated to be very effective at removing lead released into the water as it travels through pipes, fixtures and fittings. Additionally, filter installation is a cost-effective solution in the long run because it concentrates drinking water used at filtered water bottle filling stations, decreasing the number of taps that need to be monitored.
“Kids should not be exposed to lead, period. Filtering the water in schools and daycare centers first is the best way to keep kids’ water safe. Relying on a battery of water tests as an excuse to avoid taking action is a gamble with kids’ futures that we can’t afford to take,” said Cyndi Roper, Michigan Senior Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Michigan’s Filter First bills are based on NRDC’s model Filter First legislation.
Filtration can potentially address other forms of contamination of drinking water; while this is still emerging science granulated activated carbon has proven effective at filtering out long chain PFAS and other contaminants.
“We must put a barrier between children and lead in their schools,” said Kristin Totten, Education Attorney, ACLU of Michigan. “These bills will protect our children from this potent neurotoxin that can limit attention, impulse control and exacerbate learning and behavior challenges.”
The “filter first” legislation is supported by the following organizations: 482 Forward, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Ecology Center, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Michigan Nurses Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Safe Water Engineering, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.
Nick Dodge, [email protected], (616) 796-4912
Rebecca Meuninck, [email protected], (734) 369-9278
Cyndi Roper, [email protected], (517) 388-8363
Dana Chicklas, [email protected] (734) 945-8857