The State Water Resources Control Board today officially launched an effort to encourage K-12 schools in California to have their drinking water tested for lead. As part of the effort, the board’s Division of Drinking Water is issuing amended permits this week that require community water systems to test the schools in their service areas for lead if requested by school officials in writing.
Details are now available on the State Water Board’s website here. Schools covered by the requirement include public, private, charter, magnet and non-public K-12 schools. Preschools and day-care centers are not included.
Water systems that receive a request will have 60 days to make contact with the school to schedule a meeting to develop a sampling plan. Systems will have a total of 90 days from the time the request is received to finalize the sampling plan and conduct sampling at the school.
Required sampling locations include regularly used drinking fountains, cafeteria / food preparation areas and reusable water bottle filling stations.
ACWA has tools and resources for members regarding the requirement, including sample letters and suggested outreach steps. The resources are available here. (Member login required.)
In a news release announcing the testing requirement, the State Water Board noted that because California “has newer infrastructure and less corrosive water than other parts of the country, lead problems at the tap are uncommon.” It further noted that community water systems extensively test their drinking water for lead, but lead can get into clean water at a school site if there were corroded pipes or old fixtures at the school.
“While the presence of lead in California’s water infrastructure is minimal compared to other parts of the country, additional testing can help ensure we are continuing to protect our most vulnerable populations,” Darrin Polhemus, deputy director of the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water, said in the release.
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