State Representative Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond) on January 30, 2020 passed a bill through the Indiana House that would mandate schools statewide to test their waters for lead and copper contamination.
House Bill 1265 would require testing for lead and copper in the drinking water of every school in the state before January 2023. The state of Indiana has received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Department, which will cover the costs of lead testing. This testing requirement would be satisfied, however, if the facility already has tested for compliance with federal water standards since 2016.
“The threat of lead contamination in our kids’ water is increasing every day,” Jackson said. “That has to change, and it has to change now.”
According to the bill, if it is found that there is a presence of lead that is equal to or greater than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion, then the operators of that facility must take steps to correct the matter and reduce that number to safer levels.
“In recent times, there has been increased awareness of the problems being caused by disrepair and old age in these schools,” Jackson added. “There have been problems in both Hammond and East Chicago, and I am sure that is only the tip of the iceberg.
“Thanks to Representative Sue Errington’s amendment yesterday, this testing has the potential to be expanded throughout the state. This is vital because we now realize that this problem is not limited to Lake County and it is frighteningly bad in some areas.
“We do not want to be the next Flint. We need to be proactive and work to ensure that we take care of our children immediately.”
House Bill 1265 passed the House with a vote of 89-2 and now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.