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Not all NJ schools have funding to remove lead-tainted water fountains

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Schools with lead in the water may have shut down access to contaminated water fountains, but when students come back return to the hallways in a couple weeks some of those fountains may still be in place.

“In many of the school systems in New Jersey where we’ve had this problem — and it’s not just in New Jersey — they’ll shut down the fountains, but they maybe don’t have the funding to correct the system,” Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said.

Pallone has introduced a bill that would provide $5 million in federal funding annually to schools between 2017 and 2021. He estimates the funding would pay to remove 5,000 contaminated water fountains per year nationwide.

Pallone is also sponsoring the AQUA Act, which he says would double funding for lead infrastructure replacement.

New Brunswick’s school system was among those with lead in its water. The district tested for it after the crisis in Flint, Mich., and has since paid $10,000 to replace contaminated water fountains.

“My son is a huge water drinker, so for me it was major,” said Barbara Henry, whose son is going into third grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

“They replaced them and so as far as this school is concerned, I’m completely happy.”