Senate approves legislation to ensure safe drinking water in schools, child care centers

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation led by Senate Health Policy and Human Services Chairman Curt VanderWall to safeguard drinking water in schools and child care centers.

“In national testing, lead is the most prevalent contaminant in U.S. school drinking water and drinking water in schools and child care facilities is a daily source of water for many children,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “We need to protect the water our children drink from lead and other poisons. This legislation will ensure schools and child care centers only install filtered drinking water stations and have the tools and resources to keep our children safe from contaminated drinking water.”

Senate Bill 184, sponsored by VanderWall, and SB 185, sponsored by Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, work together to direct schools and child care centers to develop a drinking water safety plan, install filtered bottle-filling stations and filtered faucets, shut off or render permanently inoperable any water outlet that is not a filtered station or faucet and post signage near each water outlet indicating whether it is intended for human consumption.

“We know that aging service lines, plumbing, and other fixtures can add contaminates that are not originally present at community water sources. On top of that, the patterns of school schedules time off over weekends, as well as holiday and seasonal breaks can increase the risk of contaminates leaking into drinking water during periods when it stagnates unused,” VanderWall said. “Our filter first plan will help negate these risks and keep water in these buildings clean.”

SB 184 also creates the School and Child Care Center Clean Drinking Water Fund within the Department of Treasury to assist child care centers and schools with one-time acquisition and installation of filtered bottle-filling stations and filtered faucets, maintenance of filtered bottle-filling stations and filtered faucets, and costs associated with water sampling and testing. The department may also award grants and conduct bulk purchases of required equipment to achieve cost savings.

The bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.