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Reports from Policy Analysts

New York state school drinking water

Submitted On: Saturday, September 10, 2016

Analyst: Kulnis, Derek

Analyst: Derek Kulnis

September 10, 2016

New York City is modifying the way in which it tests for lead in the water supply for schools after criticism that its procedure for testing the water was likely to produce inaccurate results.

After initially signaling that its procedure for testing the water was sound, the city has since stated that it will end its practice of testing the water after a period of what is known as pre-stagnation flushing, which involves letting the water run from outlets for two hours before testing it for contaminants. The city also explained that it will try to test the water as often as possible when school was in session.

According to Kate Taylor in The New York Times, “510 of the city’s 1,520 occupied school buildings had at least one outlet where the first-draw water sample had a lead concentration over 15 parts per billion, the E.P.A.’s “action level” for lead in municipal water systems.”

New York City is not the only area of the state that is concerned about the possibility of lead in its school water supply. Both the Ithaca City School District in Tompkins County and the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District have had sinks or water fountains that have shown high levels of lead. 

Kelsey O’Connor reported in The Ithaca Journal that “more than 100 schools across New York [state] have tested positive for lead, which prompted legislation in June that requires constant testing.”

The state has mandated that all schools test their water for lead contamination.  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this week which was passed by the legislature in June. The law gives elementary schools until the end of September to complete lead testing, while middle and high schools have until the end of October to complete their evaluations.

An article by Glenn Blain in The New York Daily News explains that the law “requires school officials to shut down any drinking water sources found to have excess levels of lead, notify the state Health Department and parents of the findings, and develop plans to remedy the contamination.”

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