Community water systems advised mandatory lead sampling now in effect for public schools

By on January 17, 2018

Community water systems throughout California have been notified by the State Water Resources Control Board that lead sampling of all public schools drinking water must be completed by July 1, 2019 for schools built before 2010. Assembly Bill (AB) 746 – originally introduced by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-District 80- San Diego) became law on Jan. 1 for all public, K-12 schools as well as day care and preschools on public school properties.

Water systems will conduct sampling at drinking fountains and faucets used for consumption and preparing food. The State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water will work with community water systems to ensure that all public schools in their service areas that were built before 2010 are sampled. Public schools that requested and received sampling of their water systems under the voluntary program and have already met the requirements of AB 746, do not need to be sampled again. Whereas AB 746 does not mandate the testing for private schools, these schools can request free sampling under the voluntary Lead Sampling in Schools Program, which will remain in effect until Nov. 1, 2019.

A water system must report the testing results within two business days if any samples show lead levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb). Water systems have 10 business days to report results if samples show lead levels less than, or equal to, 15 ppb. If a school’s lead level exceeds 15 ppb, then the water system is required to sample water entering the school to help determine the possible source of lead.

Schools found to have lead levels above 15 ppb must take several steps to ensure the safety of its students while the source of the problem is determined and rectified. These include shutting down all fountains and faucets with high lead levels and providing potable drinking water until the situation is resolved. The school must also notify all parents and student guardians.

AB 746 requires community water systems to comply with the new law or face enforcement action from the Division of Drinking Water. The new law also requires schools found with water outlets testing above 15 ppb to potentially undergo additional testing to determine if all or just some of the school’s fountains and faucets must be shut down.

Additional information on the Lead Sampling in Schools Program and AB 746, go to: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/leadsamplinginschools.html.