Over the past two years, the tragedy of Flint, Michigan has stunned the nation. We watched the drinking water of an entire city become contaminated with lead. And now we know this toxic threat extends well beyond Flint to communities across the country. In fact, test results now show that lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools — flowing from thousands of fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

Lead is highly toxic, especially for children

A potent neurotoxin, lead affects how our children learn, grow, and behave. According to the EPA,"In children, low levels of [lead] exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells." In fact, medical researchers estimate that more than 24 million children in America will lose IQ points due to low levels of lead.

Lead in the drinking water at school 

Even the limited available data shows drinking water laced with lead at schools and early childhood programs across the country.

The threat of lead in schools’ water affects not only big cities but also suburban and rural communities. Tests have documented lead-tainted water in schools Cherry Hill, NJYarmouth, ME, and several other school districts in upstate New York, and suburban communities in Illinois.

Sometimes, the levels of lead are exceedingly high. For example, one drinking water fountain at a Montessori school in Cleveland had 1,560 parts per billion. A school in the Chicago suburbs had lead-water concentrations at 212 times the federal standard. Leicester Memorial Elementary in Massachusetts had a tap that tested at 22,400 ppb.

 

A pervasive threat to our children’s health

In all likelihood, these confirmed cases of lead in schools’ water are just the tip of the iceberg. Most schools have at least some lead in their pipes, plumbing, or fixtures. And where there is lead, there is risk of contamination. 

Several school districts across Texas have tested for lead in the drinking water, and the results are shocking. Of the 594 schools tested in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth, 386 have measured levels of lead greater than 1 part per billion (ppb). 65% of the schools tested so far have showed dangerous levels of lead in the water, according to the data presented by school districts.

Time to Get the Lead Out

Given these facts, the only way to ensure safe drinking water for our children is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools. This involves proactively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems — from service lines to faucets and fixtures —and installing filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for drinking or cooking.

What you can do 

Contact your school and ask whether it has lead pipes or plumbing. Ask if the water has been tested for lead and to see all the results. Sometimes schools only report levels of lead in water above 15 parts per billion, but there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, especially for our children. 

In addition, we’re calling on all states to “get the lead out” of schools drinking water. Please urge your governor to take strong action to protect our children’s health. Take action. 

Clean Water Updates

Blog Post

Stormwater explainer | Brian Zabcik

As Austin looks to update its stormwater policies as part of CodeNext to help reduce flooding and water pollution, the debate can get real technical, real fast. For folks who aren't knee-deep in water policy like I am, here's a hopefully simple guide to key terms in the world of stormwater. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Texas worst for unauthorized industrial water pollution

AUSTIN – 132 industrial facilities dumped excessive pollution into Texas waterways 938 times over 21 months, more than any other state in the nation, according to a new report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.  The facilities rarely faced penalties for this pollution.  Environment Texas’ Troubled Waters report comes as the Trump administration tries to weaken clean water protections and slash enforcement funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

Troubled Waters 2018

Over a 21-month period from January 2016 to September 2017, major industrial facilities released pollution that exceeded the levels allowed under their Clean Water Act permits more than 8,100 times. Often, these polluters faced no fines or penalties.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Comments on Houston Floodplain Ordinance | Brian Zabcik

because runoff pollution is part of the larger problem of stormwater management, we recognize that it must be addressed in concert with solutions that reduce the risks of flooding in Houston. That is why Environment Texas supports the proposed changes to the Chapter 19 Floodplain Ordinance that will require new homes to be built up to 2 feet above the 500-year floodplain. The changes are an important step in confronting the flood risks that Houston will continue to face, especially as a changing climate produces more extreme weather events. The Chapter 19 revisions are essential to protect public safety.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Compact, connected and green | Luke Metzger

Sprawl is a well-known enemy of the environment. Sadly, Austin’s current Land Development Code encourages — and in many cases requires — this type of land gobbling, water and energy consuming development that generates more and longer car trips than compact urban areas and far more carbon emissions. There is no environmental case for accommodating Austin’s rapid population increase with more sprawling, car-dependent development.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed