Rauner to sign bill requiring lead testing in schools

 
Daily Herald report
Posted1/15/2017 8:00 PM
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  • Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign a bill Monday that would require all Illinois schools to test drinking water for lead contamination by 2018.

      Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign a bill Monday that would require all Illinois schools to test drinking water for lead contamination by 2018. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

A bill requiring all Illinois schools to test drinking water for lead contamination is expected to be signed Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The bill, which was approved by the Illinois Senate last week, calls for school districts and licensed child-care facilities to test all water fixtures where people would be likely to get a drink by 2018. Those outlets include water fountains, kitchen sinks and classroom faucets, whereas restroom sinks and spigots in custodial closets are excluded.

The legislation has received some resistance from municipal and school district leaders who worried about added costs and responsibility related to the testing.

Rauner's administration, however, has been supportive of the testing mandate and has worked closely with schools, public health advocates and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office to address some of those concerns. He will sign the bill Monday morning at the annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition breakfast honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly.

The compromise that put the bill in motion was partially thanks to a Daily Herald investigation last month of lead testing at 653 suburban schools. The results showed 15 percent of 5,112 water samples taken from 319 schools had some level of lead contamination. Barely half of the schools received any testing at all, and few had been tested to the extent the new law would require.

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