BERGENFIELD, NEW JERSEY (CBS New York) –  New Jersey is expanding its fight against lead in drinking water statewide to make sure students are safe at school.

On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy and Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced a three-pronged approach to making sure all school children in New Jersey have access to clean, lead-free drinking water.

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As a parent you hope it’s safe for your child to drink from school water fountains. That’s because lead in water is not just a Newark problem or an urban problem, it’s a New Jersey problem.

Many school buildings in the state have aging lead pipes, CBS2’s Meg Baker reports.


Murphy says the state has a plan.

“We will, one, strengthen the state Department of Education safe drinking water regulations,” he said.

Schools will be required to test all sources of water for lead every three years, instead of every six years, to ensure timely detection of elevated levels of lead.

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Two, all lead testing information will be made easily available on the state Department of Education’s website for parents to access. Gottheimer says few schools make this information available.

Six school systems in his Congressional district indicated at least one water outlet that had a problem with lead.

“Exposure to lead can have a severe impact on our children, stunting development, causing learning disabilities, hearing loss, seizures and irreversible harm to brain development, the nervous system and vital organs,” Gottheimer said.

The next initiative is paying to replace old pipes.

“Use the funding available through the voter-approved Securing Our Children’s Future bond act to prioritize and undertake remediation projects for districts facing high lead levels,” Murphy said.

Bergenfield’s superintendent says there was lead issue at Herbert Hoover Elementary School caused by lead pipes and fixtures. Those outlets were replaced using district money. Gottheimer hopes to claw back federal funds to help with New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure.

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Leaders say no child should be at risk of damaging their health just because they are thirsty at school.