Appeals Court Says San Diego Does Not Have to Pay for Lead Testing at Its Schools

A three judge panel of the Third Appellate District Court has sided with San Diego in its challenge over a state mandate that requires local water districts to pay for lead testing at schools.

The mandate, which requires all K-12 schools to be tested for the presence of lead, was approved by California's Water Resources Control Board in 2017. The Commission on State Mandates determined the cost would be covered by local water districts. San Diego said that violated a 1979 law that requires the state to reimburse local agencies for compliance with state programs. The city complained it was forced to pay over $500,000 from its general fund to test water at San Diego schools.

The latest ruling reversed a lower court decision that sided with the Commission. The appellate decision means either the state will be forced to reimburse the city for all water testing done since 2017, or the city will levy new charges and fees to cover the cost.

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