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Free Drinking Water Lead Testing at California Public Schools

-Courtesy photo by Deepcove (CC0)


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that public schools can receive free testing for lead in drinking water under a new state program.

The State Water Resources Control Board, in cooperation with the California Department of Education (CDE), recently required all community water systems to test school drinking water upon request by school officials. 

“Students should have access to clean drinking water at all times,” Torlakson said. “Students need fresh water, nutritious meals, and appropriate physical activity to be ready to learn in class.”

California’s water agencies regularly test for lead and other contaminants in their systems to comply with both state and federal laws. Water agencies also use corrosion control measures to prevent any lead that might be present from leaching into tap water.

The State Water Resources Control Board initiative makes testing mandatory if a public school served by a community water system requests testing.

Lead problems are infrequent in California, which has newer water infrastructure and less corrosive water than other parts of the nation. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed the State Water Resources Control Board to incorporate schools into the regular water quality testing that community water systems conduct at customer’s taps.

If school officials make a written request, the community water systems must collect the samples within three months and report results back within two business days. Sampling locations can include drinking fountains, cafeteria and food preparation areas, and reusable water bottle filling stations. The program extends until Nov. 1, 2019.  

The community water systems are responsible for the costs associated with collecting drinking water samples, analyzing them, and reporting results.

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