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Avoiding the water quality problems suffered in Flint

Senior policy adviser with UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute, Christina Hecht, says federal law requires schools to provide potable drinking water. But the question remains, but how do they confirm water safety? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The shameful state of tap water in Flint, Mich., has raised concerns about the quality of water being piped into schools across America, reported Helena Bottemiller Evich in Politico Pro. Politico also ran a summary in its Morning Agriculture Briefing.

Congress and health groups are looking at a provision of a 2010 child nutrition law to get schools to test their water, and considering how to help schools pay for it.

The Politico reporter spoke to Christina Hecht, a senior policy adviser at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. The institute is the hub for the National Drinking Water Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals across the country working to ensure that American children can drink safe water in the places where they live, learn and play.

Hecht pointed out that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to provide potable water during meal times. The act also says that child care facilities that participate in federal meals programs must give kids access to drinkable water throughout the day.

Because of this wording in the law, USDA could issue a guidance requiring schools to test their water to be sure it is potable.

"The beauty of this approach is that the language is there ... the means for oversight is there," Hecht said. "When you look at Flint, where does the buck stop? When you look at schools and child care, we've identified where the buck stops."

The cost to test water at schools nationwide is estimated to be about $7.6 million. For adult and child-care sites it would be about $14 million. In all, the expenditure works out to about 40 cents per child. 

"We at the Nutrition Policy Institute encourage Congress to appropriate funds for tap water testing in American schools, and remediation where necessary," Hecht said.

Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 10:03 AM

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