The levels of lead in the water systems of Newark, New Jersey’s public school systems recently tested above the federal action limit, but according to allegations by the Newark teachers union, the school district knew about the elevated lead levels for more than 10 years.

School districts across the country are not required by law to test their drinking water, nor are they required to share the results if they do. However, in light of the lead contaminated water systems in Newark and Flint, Michigan, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) recently introduced new legislation called the Transparent Environment in School Testing for Lead Act, better known as the TEST for Lead Act.

Rep. Payne, Jr. spoke with guest host Laura Coates during Wednesday’s edition of NewsOne Now about the TEST Act and the revelation that the nation’s water supply could pose an imminent threat to our children.

Rep. Payne, Jr. explained the TEST Act will require states that receive federal funds for public schools to test for lead and if lead is found; parents, school administrators, and the public are to be notified within 48 hours.

The new Jersey Congressman said, “That was one of the issues in Flint; it went on for quite some time and when talking of Newark, they’ve known for ten years, but no one has disclosed” the results of the lead level tests.

According to Rep. Payne, Jr. the TEST Act does not address repairing the infrastructure delivering water to our schools. A survey from the American Society of Civil Engineers “estimates that in New Jersey alone, we will face a $7.9 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next twenty years.”

Rep. Payne, Jr. said the issue with our drinking water is not confined to “urban areas.” He said, “We have found now in New Jersey some suburbs that have issues.”

“This is an issue that is going to run across the country and I know a lot of areas are starting to look at this issue now based on what has been seen in Flint and now in New Jersey,” Payne said.

Watch guest host Laura Coates, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr., and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the TEST Act and America’s crumbling drinking water infrastructure in the video clip above.

TV One’s NewsOne Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.

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