Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tampa Bay Lawmaker Co-Sponsors Bill To Filter Lead Out Of School Drinking Water

Lead Testing, Summer 2018
Hillsborough County Public Schools
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

There are more than 4,000 public schools in Florida. Democratic State Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa is co-sponsoring a bill to filter lead out of the water used for drinking and cooking at all of them.

Cruz thinks there's money in the budget to pay for filters to remove lead from water used for drinking or cooking at public schools.

"Schools around the country are facing this problem," Cruz said. "And we need to fix this in Florida and that's why I'm putting forth this bill as a mandate for safe water for our children in the public schools."

The bill would require districts to filter drinking water at the source at schools built prior to 1986. 

Cruz noted that she came up with the idea after hearing about water testing at schools in her own district.

"Our thought was that, this is ridiculous and specifically, at least the water fountain should be a safe place for our children to drink from and refill their water bottles," Cruz said.

Florida doesn't require public schools to test drinking water or to filter it.  Last year, Hillsborough and Polk County both found elevated levels of lead at a small percentage of schools. But the districts say repairs have since resolved the problems.

Copyright 2019 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.