March 10, 2022
In response to Councilmember Gym's introduction of legislation to eliminate all lead in school drinking water by the expansion of hydration stations, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:
PHILADELPHIA—"With the introduction of an ordinance requiring hydration stations with modern point-of-use filtration in every school, City Council today took an important step forward in addressing the ongoing facilities crisis that has impacted our school communities for far too long.
"The ordinance, introduced by Councilmember Gym and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Bass, Brooks, Gauthier, Gilmore Richardson, Green, Johnson, Parker, and Squilla-- all of whom are members of the Fund Our Facilities Coalition-- will effectively eliminate the ongoing peril of lead in drinking water in our school buildings.
"Any amount of lead in water is unsafe, and while we have made great strides in eradicating lead in school water supplies, there is still work to be done. In 2016, we worked with City Council to pass some of the most stringent lead in water laws in the nation, and today's ordinance builds upon that.
"The fact is that despite our strides, the threat of lead in water remains in far too many locations. From old pipes to unreliable readings, for too many students and staff, a drink of water might mean an unknown gamble with their health. In order to completely and with finality end the threat of lead in drinking water in schools, this legislation requires the installation of hydration stations at a healthy ratio of at least one per every 100 students, and at least one per floor.
"We encourage not only the swift passage of this legislation but also the swift enactment of it by the District. This is a prime example of an effective use of American Rescue Plan funding, and the District should take full advantage of this opportunity.
"It is unconscionable that in the year 2022 we are still having a conversation about lead in drinking water. But today's legislation is a welcome and critical step forward: the expansion of the hydration station program is an effective solution to an historic problem. And more broadly, this legislation is emblematic of a simple truth: where there is a will, there is a way. When we truly work to address the legacy crisis of toxic schools, we can make significant headway in addressing a crisis that would never be tolerated in a wealthier, whiter school district.
"The PFT will continue working shoulder to shoulder with Councilmember Gym and all members of the Fund Our Facilities Coalition to further effectuate meaningful action to eradicate not only lead in drinking water, but also to address the myriad other toxic conditions that persist. Our fight continues."