Millett bill to ensure safe drinking water in Maine schools receives committee support

Posted: February 27, 2019 | Health and Human Services, Senator Millett

AUGUSTA — Legislation introduced by Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, that would help ensure safe drinking water in Maine schools received approval from the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. LD 153, “An Act To Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water,” now goes to the full Maine House and Senate for votes.

“We know that no level of lead is safe for our children and that exposure to lead can lead to impaired development, especially for developing brains,” said Sen. Millett. “We should ensure that our kids aren’t being exposed to lead, no matter where their water comes from.”

Currently, only schools that are on well water are required to test for lead contamination in drinking and cooking water. Sen. Millett’s bill would require all schools to test for lead contamination in drinking and cooking water. The bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish rules and protocols for this requirement, and would open the School Revolving Renovation Fund to schools that need to make improvements to mitigate lead contamination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children who are exposed to lead can suffer damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

“Lead is unlike any other chemical contaminant that may be found in drinking water as its source is almost always internal plumbing at the end of a public water supplier’s distribution system,” said  David Braley, of the Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention. “In fact, the source of lead is not likely owned or controlled by the water supplier.”

“The future success of Maine children depends on our commitment to ensuring their health and wellbeing in the early years of their lives. We owe it to Maine children and their families to ensure kids are safe in their schools, and that includes being able to drink the water there without worrying that it will make them sick,” said Claire Berkowitz of the Maine Children’s Alliance.