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New Website Shows Which Schools have been Tested for Lead and their Results
Assembly Bill 746, which took effect Jan. 1, requires all of California’s K-12 public schools, as well as day care and preschools on public school properties built before 2010, to complete lead sampling on drinking water fountain and faucets – and water used for preparing food. A new map-based, online tool has just been released by the State Water Resources Control Board shows which public schools in California have had their drinking water tested for lead along with their results.
Water systems/agencies must work with the state’s public schools to complete this mandatory sampling by July 1, 2019. With 12-plus months to go before the deadline, some 30 percent of California’s approximately 10,000 public schools have been sampled for lead.
“Our newly developed website allows the public to search the status of lead testing of drinking water at schools in their area,” said Darrin Polhemus, deputy director for the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water. “This tool allows the public to stay informed as we continue to receive more results from the mandatory testing of public schools.”
National events have highlighted the importance of ongoing water quality monitoring. In 2015 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed the State Water Board to incorporate schools into the regular water quality testing that community water systems conduct at customer’s taps. However, because most of California’s infrastructure is less dated and the water is less corrosive than in other parts of the country, less than one percent of all school samples collected so far have detected elevated levels of lead.
The vast majority of California’s public, K-12 schools are served by the 1,200-plus community water systems/agencies in the state who regularly and extensively test their drinking water for lead. However, lead can get into clean water at a school campus if there are corroded pipes or old fixtures at the school.
If a school’s lead level exceeds 15 ppb, the water system/agency is required to sample water entering the school to help determine the possible source of lead. The school must also take several precautionary actions, including shutting down all fountains and faucets with high lead levels, providing potable drinking water until the situation is resolved, and notifying their students’ parents and guardians. Additional testing may be required to determine if all or just some of the school’s fountains and faucets are required to be shut down.
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.
Of note — private schools within the state are not required to be sampled under AB 746 but may request free sampling through the State Water Board’s voluntary Lead Sampling in Schools Program, which remains in effect until Nov. 1, 2019.
To view the State Water Board’s new online, map-based tool identifying which schools have already been tested for lead and their results, go to: https://waterboards.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=9d17731cae2c4452957fadc5d8ee2d75. The map is updated as additional schools are tested for lead and their results are known.