Stricter Water Lead Standard Suggested for County Libraries, Rec Centers

Stricter Water Lead Standard Suggested for County Libraries, Rec Centers

State, county proposals designed to ensure safer drinking water

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County Council member Tom Hucker at Tuesday's news conference.

Dan Schere

Tighter county standards for lead levels in drinking water being proposed for public schools could also be applied to the county’s libraries, parks and recreation centers.

A bill sponsored by Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker calls for lead limits of 5 parts per billion in public schools, below the current national standard of 15 ppb established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Since introducing this legislation, I’ve also asked Montgomery Parks, our libraries and our rec department to get back to me with a budget proposal for testing their fountains as well. And I have the county (executive’s) proposed fiscal 2020 budget in front of us, and I want to make sure those departments get what they need to conduct their testing for elevated lead levels,” Hucker said during a Tuesday news conference.

Hucker said the county’s Department of General Services has already removed several water fountains in libraries and recreation centers due to lead contamination.

Hucker was joined at a news conference by several education advocates, fellow council members, and state Del. Jared Solomon, a Democrat from Chevy Chase who is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature that would require a 5 ppb standard at all schools in Maryland by 2020.

Montgomery County Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman said within two weeks, no county schools would be using drinking fountains that contained lead-contaminated water.

Zuckerman said more than 13,000 water outlets were tested for lead last year, and 249 were found to have lead levels that exceeded the 5 ppb standard.

While Solomon’s bill passed in the House of Delegates earlier this week, Hucker said it’s still imperative that the council pass local legislation to lower Montgomery County’s standard immediately.

“We want to set the standard for Montgomery County. The schools have done it, and then we want to pivot from there.”

Hucker, whose district includes Silver Spring, Burtonsville and other parts of Eastern Montgomery County, said several schools with high lead concentrations are in his jurisdiction.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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