New bills would require water filters in all Michigan schools and day cares

Essexville residents picked up water filters after lead levels exceeding state and federal...
Essexville residents picked up water filters after lead levels exceeding state and federal guidelines were discovered in the city's water system. (WJRT)
Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 12:55 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - A plan to require water filters in all Michigan schools and day care facilities has been reintroduced to the Legislature.

State Sen. Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, revived the bills on Friday with Republican State Sen. Curt VanderWall of Ludington. The Filter First plan would require an NSF-approved water filter on faucets and drinking fountains at schools and day cares.

Ananich said drinking water quality becomes unpredictable as buildings age, but requiring filters would make sure every water source available to children is free of lead and other toxins.

“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,” he said. “Right now, that’s not a guarantee, but it can be if we make sure every water source has a filter on it.”

Lead is known to stunt children’s development, lower their intelligence, shorten their attention span, increase antisocial behavior, damage their kidneys and weaken their immune systems. Effects can last throughout their school years and into adulthood.

Most filters on the market now are designed to remove lead and other toxic substances from drinking water.

Ananich’s bills would establish a new state fund to help schools and day care facilities in low-income areas pay for installing and maintaining water filters. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy would be directed to guide them on best practices for providing safe water.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer included a $55 million funding request in her budget proposal for the Filter First program, which Ananich hopes lawmakers will approve during negotiations this year.

“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.”

His bills were referred to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. They would have to pass there, the full Senate and the House before Whitmer could decide whether to sign them into law.

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