The Environmental Protection Agency could soon regulate the drinking water at schools and licensed child care facilities for its lead and copper levels.
The agency is considering expanding a nearly 30-year-old rule about allowable levels of lead and copper in drinking water to include schools and day cares. The facilities’ tap water and drinking fountains would be subject to scrutiny for the first time, and districts could be held liable for required modifications.
The new regulations are part of the Trump administration’s strategy to bolster protections for children against the toxic effects of lead after widely publicized water quality issues in the Flint, Mich., and Newark, N.J., public schools.
The public comment period for the proposed changes closes at midnight Wednesday and had garnered more than 55,000 submissions, many in favor, by midafternoon.
But numerous school officials expressed concern about where the funding would come from for expensive infrastructure repairs.
“Given limited local resources, it is imperative that federal funds support [school districts’] efforts in removing lead from schools’ drinking water,” wrote Missouri’s Leeton R-X School District Superintendent Susan Crooks. “This concern cannot be overstated.”
The proposed regulations could also produce misleading results since lead levels fluctuate for a variety of reasons and even vary from tap to tap within a building, according to Erik Olson, a senior strategic director at the environmental nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. —Laura Edghill