(April 17) – With a 12-1 vote, the House Education Committee this afternoon approved a bill by Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Tony Exum Sr. to support testing for lead in public school drinking water.

“If a school has lead in its pipes, children can be affected mentally and physically for life,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “Many districts want to test for lead, but have not been able to find the funding. This bill provides that funding and allows for local control for testing and any needed remediation.”

“Drinking water is vital for our children,” said Rep. Exum, D-Colorado Springs. “Lead exposure can have damaging impacts, including hearing impairment, reduction in attention span and nervous system problems. It is important for the health and safety of our students to be able to detect lead—only then can we move forward to remove it.”

There is no safe level of lead in drinking water for children. HB17-1306 authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to establish a grant program to test for lead in drinking water in public schools. The voluntary grant program would provide 90 percent of the funding and the receiving school district would contribute the remaining 10 percent of the cost. Priority would be given to the oldest elementary schools, because they’re more likely to have lead pipes.

The 12-1 vote sends the bill to the House Appropriations Committee.

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