TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie says that he will require all of New Jersey's public schools to test for lead in water starting next school year.
Christie said Monday that he will ask the Legislature for $10 million to pay for testing in about 3,000 schools starting in the fall. This is in addition to the $10 million he already announced last month to cover lead paint testing.
He says that the state's education department will publicize the test results and notify parents immediately if lead is detected. Schools will be required to test the water ever year.
“Testing needs to be commenced in this new school year coming up this September so that parents know when they send their children to school this fall, that they will be sending them to places where the water is safe for children to drink and it’s safe to be used for cooking as well,” says Christie.
Federal law requires testing only in schools that run their own water systems.
The governor had previously cautioned lawmakers over proposals to require lead testing of the water in all schools. Christie said Monday that it's the right thing to do.
The governor said that it would cost millions to replace water pipes if some schools are shown to have elevated lead levels. He says that the state's first move would likely be to provide water bottles, but there would be no immediate plans to be able to improve the water systems.
Camden schools have been relying on bottled water for quite some time due to contamination.
Much of the concern over lead in schools’ drinking water came after testing in March found elevated lead levels in half of the school buildings in Newark.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.