State requires schools to test water for lead

SAN DIEGO — A bill from a San Diego legislator that requires public schools to test for lead in campus water systems, and notify parents if elevated levels are found, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Friday.

Assembly Bill 746, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, stemmed from the discovery of excess lead in drinking water at schools in the San Diego Unified and San Ysidro school districts.

“If your child is drinking lead-contaminated water at school, you as a parent have every right to know about it,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “This law will help safeguard the health of our children, which is one of our most solemn responsibilities as legislators.”

The school would have to take the source of contaminated water out of service immediately.

After the elevated lead levels were found, the city of San Diego checked the water systems at all San Diego Unified campuses in April and May. The few problem spots that were discovered were subsequently fixed.

The San Diego district’s Board of Education voted three months ago to take water systems out of service if they test for higher than 5 parts per billion of lead. The current state and federal guidelines are 15 ppb.

More recent testing under the new local standards found some locations at Encanto Elementary to be above 15 ppb and others over 5 ppb, according to district data. SDUSD data also showed some parts of the water system at McKinley Elementary School in North Park were found to be above district standards, but under the federal and state levels.