Oct 06, 2009

School Drinking Water Contaminated in All 50 States

Senator Barbara Boxer writes to EPA requesting timetable for efforts addressing contamination

A recent Associated Press investigation found contamination of water supplies at thousands of schools across the U.S. Lead, pesticides and dozens of other contaminants were detected in public and private schools in all 50 states over the last decade.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Oct. 5 to ask how the agency will address the widespread problem. Boxer chairs the Senate committee overseeing the EPA.

"The EPA is responsible for overseeing the safety of our nation's drinking water systems," Boxer wrote in the letter sent Monday. "I am sure that you recognize the importance of acting quickly to address any report of pollution in the water our children drink."

EPA officials have said in the past that they do not have the authority to require schools to test water, and can only give guidance, the AP said. The EPA also said that unsafe water is only present at a small percentage of the nation's 132,500 public and private schools.

Officials with the EPA acknowledge their database of schools in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act is beleaguered with errors, the AP reported.

Boxer requested an outline of actions taken to address contamination problems in school drinking water as well as an explanation of how the agency oversees and enforces drinking water quality rules. She also asked for a timetable of when efforts to address contamination will be completed.