- Associated Press - Sunday, April 28, 2019

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Testing the water for lead at Vermont schools and daycare centers is unlikely to start before the school year ends in June.

After a pilot study last year found high levels of lead at five of the 16 tested schools, lawmakers hoped to begin testing the water at all schools and daycare centers this academic year. But Vermont Public Radio reports they are struggling to decide what level of lead triggers remediation and how much the state should spend toward such work. Testing must be done while schools are open to accurately reflect how water moves through the plumbing.

The Senate has passed a bill that calls for remediation for lead levels above three parts per billion. The House wants to set the threshold at five parts per billion. That’s too high, said Sen. Brian Campion, who sponsored the bill and originally set the threshold at one part per billion.

“In my opinion the House is putting children at greater risk by increasing the parts per billion to five,” said Campion, a Democrat from Bennington. “We’re talking about children’s health. But also of course we’re talking about the faculty and staff and others that are working at our schools. This is a real, real public health issue.”

Shelburne Rep. Kate Webb, chair of the House Education Committee, said setting the action level at five parts per billion would make more money available for remediation.

“And the good news about the remediation is once you replace those faucets, you can get it below one (part per billion),” said Webb, a Democrat. “So our interest was in moving as many of our drinking and cooking facilities to below one (part per billion).”

Conservation Law Foundation Director Jen Duggan said she is frustrated with the show pace of action in the House and the amendments to weaken the action level.

The bill is now in the House Appropriations Committee where lawmakers are figuring out how much it will cost and how much school districts would be expected to pay for remediation.


Information from: WVPS-FM, http://www.vpr.net

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