LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) —Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) reintroduced legislation to increase access to filtered drinking water to children and staff at child care centers.
The bipartisan set of bills, introduced with Sen. Curt VanderWall (R–Ludington), would require every child care center and school to have NSF-approved filters for taps and drinking fountains.
As Michigan’s water infrastructure and school buildings age, the “Filter First” approach is the quickest, most cost-effective way to make sure clean drinking water is available at school.
“Parents should be able to trust that when they send their child off to school or drop them off at day care, they will be drinking clean, safe water throughout the day,” Sen. Ananich said in a press release.
“Right now, that’s not a guarantee, but it can be if we make sure every water source has a filter on it. As buildings continue to age, water quality becomes increasingly unpredictable. Our bills take the guesswork out of it by ensuring that schools and day cares install filters, keeping lead and other toxins out of the water supply and our kids safe and healthy.”
When consuming water in child care centers, children risk being exposed to lead, which can lead to impaired development, lower intelligence, shorten attention spans, increase antisocial behavior, damage kidneys and weaken immune systems.
Children exposed to lead can struggle to thrive in school and beyond.
With new technology, lead can be filtered from drinking water before it reaches children’s mouths. Sen. Ananich’s goal is to make school water safety as manageable as possible, which is why the bills establish a fund to help day cares and schools in low-income areas afford the filters, installation and upkeep.
Under the legislation, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy would guide school systems and child care centers on how to best provide safe drinking water.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer designated $55 million in funding for the Filter First program in her executive budget recommendations, and Sen. Ananich expects that legislators on both sides of the aisle can find common ground to make sure kids have access to clean water.
“At the end of the day, we can’t rely on plumbing alone to keep kids safe,” Sen. Ananich said. “As someone who has seen firsthand how lead contamination can devastate an entire community, I am dedicated to making sure that wherever kids go, they’re getting safe water. Filter First is the smartest, quickest, most affordable way to make that a reality.”
The bills have been introduced and referred to the Committee on Environmental Quality.