Gonzalez Bill Requiring Lead Testing for School Water Moves Forward

Proposed legislation that would require all school districts and colleges to test water for lead contamination and take specific actions if high levels of lead are discovered will move forward to a full Assembly vote.

The bill is proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), who introduced it after high levels of lead were discovered at an elementary school in her district. Her office had been working on addressing concerns over lead poisoning for more than a year.

NBC7 alerted Gonzalez to the issue at La Mirada Elementary school in San Ysidro where contractors discovered blue, murky water oozing from school water fountains.

Administrators at the San Ysidro School District immediately shut the water off and provided students with bottle water and informed parents of the potential exposure to lead. Following the news at La Mirada Elementary, NBC7 discovered complaints over "smelly water" drove officials to test water at two other schools in Gonzalez-Fletcher's AD-80th district.

Since NBC7 launched its "Safe to Drink" series in February, more than 300 schools have requested water testing through a state program. More than 20 schools in the county have discovered lead in their water and a total of six have discovered lead at high levels considered unsafe by federal regulators.

San Diego Unified officials found high levels of lead and other contaminants at Emerson-Bandini Elementary and the San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2.

Gonzalez-Fletcher's bill requires contaminated water sources be immediately shut off and staff and parents be notified of potential exposures to lead.

"Protecting the health of our kids is our first priority, and right now, we don't know if they are truly being protected from lead in their drinking water," Gonzalez-Fletcher said.

State data from the California Department of Public Health, provided to NBC7 by the County of San Diego, shows 28 of the 91 kids in San Diego County under six years old with the highest levels of lead poisoning live in Gonzalez-Fletcher's Assembly district.

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