The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced a new requirement on January 17, 2017, for California water systems to provide lead testing of drinking water at K-12 schools upon request of school officials. The water systems are responsible for all costs associated with the testing, evaluation and reporting, while the affected schools and school districts will be responsible for the costs of retrofitting or replacing plumbing fixtures or appliances located on the customer’s side of the water meter or within the school.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule already requires public water systems to test for lead at “customers’ taps.” According to the SWRCB, “California’s compliance rate with the Lead and Copper Rule is among the highest in the country.”

California Water Association member companies, which extensively and regularly test drinking water for lead, are preparing to comply with the requirement by assessing resources needed to implement the testing, developing sampling plans, conducting the tests and monitoring schools where corrective action is required. Water systems must collect the samples within three months of the written requests and report the test results back to the schools within two business days if any sampling results in a reading that exceeds the Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). If the result is less than 15 ppb, the school must be notified within 10 business days. The sampling locations may include drinking fountains, cafeterias, food preparation areas and reusable water bottle filling stations.

In a recent press release, California Water Service Vice President of Water Quality Tim Treloar said, “Protecting our customers’ health and safety is our highest priority, and we follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule to the letter. We are committed to supporting our school districts’ efforts to protect students and ensure that the drinking water at their school sites meets lead limits.”

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