New bill sets 2025 deadline for Philly schools to limit lead in water
Philly is considering new legislation to combat lead-contaminated water in local schools.
Driving the news: Councilmember Helen Gym introduced a bill Thursday to push Philly schools to install modern water filtration systems by 2025.
State of play: The district is working on installing at least one filtered hydration station per 100 students, per floor in its 269 school buildings.
- More than 1,320 have been installed already, and 800 more are on the way.
Between the lines: The legislation push comes a month after environmental advocates at Penn Environment and PennPIRG released a study indicating that 61% of water sources tested in district schools contained lead.
- The report also found that 98% of the water sources in 65 schools tested positive for some level of contamination.
- The district referred to the report as a "mischaracterization," citing its policy to shut down water fountains or sinks that test above 10 parts per billion (ppb) — the allowable lead level in Philadelphia.
Of note: Philadelphia's lead threshold is lower than the federal level of 15 ppb.
- The study considers any amount above 1 ppb as contamination.
Yes, but: There is no safe level of lead, according to the World Health Organization.
What they're saying: "We want every student, every family, and every school community to feel confident in knowing the water they drink is lead free," Gym said in a statement.
District spokesperson Christina Clark told Axios it's a challenge to get the rest of the filters and hydration stations because of the lack of money and limited availability of licensed plumbers.
- Clark said the additional 800 hydration stations will cost more than $1 million.
- "We all share the same mission to ensure abundant safe drinking water is available in our schools," Clark said.
Jerry Jordan, president of Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, supports the legislation.
- "From old pipes to unreliable readings, for too many students and staff, a drink of water might mean an unknown gamble with their health," he said in a statement.
More Philadelphia stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.