To help ensure students have access to clean drinking water, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Angelica Jimenez, Adam Taliaferro and Clinton Calabrese to provide funding for water infrastructure projects in school districts throughout New Jersey was signed into law on Friday.
The law (formerly bill A-5887) appropriates a total of $6,608,212 to the Department of Education (DOE) from the ‘Securing Our Children’s Future Fund’ for the purpose of providing grants for water infrastructure projects in New Jersey school districts. The law specifies that the grants must be awarded to 26 specific districts, including the Hamilton Township, Bridgeton City, Jersey City and Passaic City school districts.
Children can experience behavioral and learning problems, stunted growth, hearing issues, anemia and other health concerns if they are exposed to lead in their drinking water.
The water infrastructure projects will replace drinking water outlet fixtures with new, lead-free units and/or install treatment devices that are certified to reduce lead and other contaminants.
Upon the bill becoming law, Assembly sponsors Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson), Taliaferro (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) and Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following joint statement:
“In recent years, New Jersey has begun taking steps to tackle the issue of unsafe lead levels in more than 100 water systems throughout our state by implementing thorough testing protocols, working to replace service lines, and more. We must continue to seek ways to protect residents – especially children, who are highly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead. Ensuring our schools have the resources they need to minimize or prevent lead exposure will help them protect the health and well-being of our children.”