Water filters at schools get backing

Water fountain bill
Water fountain bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal that would require school districts to install filters on such things as drinking fountains in schools built before 1986.

The proposal (SB 66) would have a significant cost to school districts, though the price tag has yet to be determined, according to the bill’s staff analysis.

Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who is a former Leon County schools superintendent, said the proposal is a “no-brainer” but urged lawmakers to find money to implement it.

Bill sponsor Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said the legislation's goal is to reduce lead at each school water source, whether it be a drinking fountains or faucets used for food preparation.

If passed, the bill would require each school district to publish on its website a list of drinking water sources, information on when filters were installed and when the filters should be replaced.

The costs associated with tracking, filter installation and posting requirements would vary by school district depending on the number of schools that were built prior to 1986 and the availability of district staff to perform the work, according to the analysis.