Long Beach Supports Senator’s Water Quality Efforts

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The Long Beach Public Schools hosted a press conference with United States Senator Charles Schumer on March 23, during which the public leader introduced a new legislation that would reimburse public school districts for lead testing in drinking water. Long Beach is ahead of the curve, having already been conducting school water quality assessments periodically for several years, but Schumer’s proposal would provide cost relief and help support students’ health throughout New York State.

According to Sen. Schumer, there is a strong chance that the legislation will be passed in the near future and would, in the long run, save school districts a substantial amount of money. It is expected to become effective around September, but would be retroactive through January of 2016.

“It’s going to be helpful and it is going to make a difference,” said Long Beach Public Schools’ Board of Education President Roy Lester. Other members of the Board were present, along with members of the Central Administration and representatives from the environmental/construction consulting and testing firm JC Broderick and Associates.

Schumer’s plan follows closely on the heels of news reports regarding lead findings in drinking water at schools in other states. Although there are no requirements for school districts in New York to test for this issue, Long Beach began doing so proactively as part of its due diligence to ensure student and staff safety. The Long Beach Public Schools’ water has been deemed safe to drink.

The pending legislation would not make water testing a mandate, but instead provide annual grants through the Environmental Protection Agency that would serve as an incentive for school districts to take action in checking for lead contamination.

The Senator referenced the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Healthy Housing when explaining that lead is much more harmful to children than adults, as it affects brain and nerve development, and can result in lifelong cognitive and health consequences. He noted that schools with pipes from prior to 1986 carry the potential of containing lead.

“In fact, giving schools the resources to test the quality of kids’ drinking water is the right and safe thing to do because lead poisoning is easily prevented – and because the effects of lead poisoning on our children’s bodies and brains is catostrophic and irreversible,” Sen. Schumer said. He commended Long Beach for their efforts in testing.

“I’d like to thank Sen. Schumer for introducing this legislation that certainly will help ensure the health and safety of our children,” said Mr. Weiss.