Lead in School Drinking Water: What You Need to Know

June 2, 2016
Is there lead in school drinking fountains?

There have recently been numerous reports of high lead levels found in the drinking water at school facilities.
This has raised questions among students, parents, and school administrators about the safety of the water in their schools.

Lead can leach from plumbing material and fixtures into the water moving through the distribution system.  The intermittent water use patterns in schools may cause elevated lead concentrations, due to prolonged water contact with plumbing.

In light of the recent discoveries of lead in school drinking water, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is encouraging schools to implement programs for testing their drinking water and best management practices for reducing lead levels in drinking water.

Specifically, the NJDEP is encouraging schools to follow a comprehensive set of guidelines developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entitled “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools: Revised Technical Guidance”. The EPA’s 3Ts include:

  • TRAINING school officials to raise awareness of the potential occurrences, causes, and health effects of lead in drinking water; assisting school officials in identifying potential areas where elevated lead may occur; and establishing a testing plan to identify and prioritize testing sites.
  • TESTING drinking water in schools to identify potential problems and take corrective actions as necessary.
  • TELLING students, parents, staff, and the larger community about monitoring programs, potential risks, the results of testing, and remediation actions.

Meanwhile, Governor Christie has proposed legislation that would require annual lead testing in all public schools beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, and provide funding to reimburse schools for the cost of the tests.

Additional information can be found on the NJDEP website.  For more information about testing drinking water in schools for lead, please contact Elizabeth Bouvier, LAN Director of Regulatory Compliance or visit our engineering page.