Last month, elevated levels of lead were found in the water supply of the state’s largest school district. Why aren’t we talking about this more?

There is a lot of discussion about what role the government should play in any number of different issues, but we can all agree that clean water is a non-partisan, non-political issue that we can all get behind. We all need clean water, and our kids certainly do too, regardless of who they are. Water policy may not be the most interesting thing to talk about, but it’s one of the more important issues policymakers focus their attention on, and it’s one that deserves public discussion.

Children have a reasonable expectation of having access to clean and free drinking water in their public schools, and parents have a reasonable expectation of being able to hold the school district accountable for keeping their children’s drinking water safe. It’s a fundamental right. Clean water is such a basic foundation of life in the developed world that for many people who never think about it, it’s almost superfluous to talk about. Of course, the water my kids are drinking in school is going to be clean!

Except for when it’s not. Portland is not the only city that has been dealing with bad drinking water lately that has disproportionately affected children (we haven’t forgotten about you, Flint), but we should talk about it and all get more passionate about making sure the water our children drink is as safe as possible.