(The Center Square) – Schools through Michigan must test for lead in water and install wall-mounted water filtration systems after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills into law.
House Bill 4341, HB 4342 and Senate Bill 88 establish the new mandates, and installation of new filter systems is covered by an $600 million state budget appropriation dedicated toward clean water access and rebuilding sewage lines.
“Every parent wants to make sure their kids are healthy, and today’s bills ensure that our kids have safe and clean drinking water when they sip from the drinking fountain,” Whitmer said in a statement. “In Michigan, we have seen the devastating and long-lasting impact of lead exposure, and we are committed to making sure no child has to suffer through this again.”
Within 15 months after the passage of HB 4341, sponsored by Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton, each school must develop a water management plan.
The plans require schools to install one filtered bottle filling station per 100 occupants or a filtered faucet instead when the installation of a wall mount is not feasible.
Annual water sampling must be completed to ensure less than 5 parts lead per 1 billion particulates. The bill provides a system of checking and management if lead is found in the water.
“As parents in the Great Lakes State, surrounded by an abundance of fresh water, the least we can expect is that the place we send our children every day to learn and play is safe and has clean drinking water,” Puri said. “I’m glad we’re on that path now.”
By the end of the 2025-26 school year, all bottle filling stations and filtered faucets must be installed. Andyt ineffective water faucets must be rendered inoperable and marked with signage warning people about usage.
The average Elkay bottle filling station costs about $1,250, while a replacement filter is about $70 each.
HB 4342, sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Neeley, D-Flint, requires all water stations to include a sign ensuring its drinkability. The bill also states all water given to children must come from one of the designated safe-to-drink water sources.
“Flint has paid an unimaginable price for water contamination,” Neeley said. “This is why I continue to push legislation that focuses on clean water and why this filter first bill package has been a priority for me.”
SB 88, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit, amended 1973 PA 116 to mandate all child care facilities, such as preschools and daycares, also include the same regulations on drinking water accessibility as public K-12 schools.
“Impacts of child lead exposure are well known, as well as negative effects on the learning environment,” Santana said. “With implementation of filters first, and monitoring water quality in all schools and daycare centers, our state is taking a preventative approach to ensure all children receive the head start in life they deserve.”