Senate passes bill requiring potable water testing at all NY state parks

North-South Lake Campground. Photo courtesy of the New York State DEC.

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the Senate has passed his bill (S.1256) that would require state and local parks to test water fixtures for lead and make repairs to any deemed unsafe.

The bill requires that park staff must test potable water every three years to determine if there is any lead contamination. If lead is detected in park water, the location would have 90 days to reduce the amount of lead found down to acceptable levels. 

The results from all tests conducted on park water would be submitted to the state and displayed online for public review. 

The bill summary states that recent test results in public parks in New York city has yielded “alarming” lead water testing rates, which demonstrates the need for more stringent testing in parks. 

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we have a responsibility to ensure we are not endangering them through public water supplies,” Gianaris said. “I am proud the Senate passed this critical safety measure that will save children’s lives.”

A law enacted in 2016 required schools to test for lead in water every five years; no such mandate exists for public parks. Senator Gianaris’ legislation increases the scope of testing to include parks, requires testing to occur more frequently and creates open data disclosure of the information. 

“I am very glad to see this bill move forward. Addressing lead exposure remains an urgent and important issue for communities across New York,” said the sponsor of the Assembly bill (A.04551), Danny O’Donnell. “Children and expecting parents spend countless hours during the warmer months in our parks and playgrounds, and it is crucial that they have safe drinking water readily available. 

O’Donnell and Gianaris note that recent testing has found too many park drinking fountains with lead levels between 5 and 15 parts per billion (ppb), with a disproportionate number of those fountains concentrated in Staten Island, the Bronx, Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. 

“Having lead testing and remediation plans in place is key for the health and safety of future generations all over New York,” O’Donnell said.

The Senate bill passed on April 4. It currently resides in the Assembly Health Committee.