Testing for Lead in Schools’ Drinking Water

Our Commitment to Supporting Schools’ Efforts to Ensure a High-Quality Water Supply

In January 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) issued new guidelines for lead testing in schools that serve any kindergarten through 12th grade level students. At Cal Water, we are committed to supporting our schools’ efforts to protect students and ensure that the drinking water at their sites meets lead standards.

Protecting our customers’ health and safety is our highest priority. As such, we have worked with public health experts and regulators on best practices to ensure we have a comprehensive, effective school sampling program. We will work with each school in our service area to develop a water sampling plan, test samples, and conduct follow-up monitoring for any school that needs to take corrective action on its plumbing fixtures.

Program guidelines and timeline

Schools may request testing from their water utilities once until November 1, 2019, and the school or school district must submit its request for testing in writing. Cal Water intends to test all of the schools in our service area. (For your convenience, you can download our Microsoft Word lead sampling request letter template.)

Upon receiving the written request, Cal Water will respond in writing and also meet with school or school district officials within 60 days to develop a sampling plan.

Cal Water will finalize the sampling plan and then collect and test samples within 90 days of the original, written request. The samples must be analyzed by a state-certified laboratory.

We will notify DDW and the school of the results in writing within 10 days of receiving the sample result. If results exceed the “Action Level” of 15 parts per billion, which is the level at which treatment or other action is required, we will conduct additional testing and notify the school within 2 business days of receiving the result. We will also include a summary of school testing in our annual Consumer Confidence Report, also known as a water quality report.

Elements of the sampling plan

We will work with each school’s designated on-site representative to conduct a survey to identify up to five sites for sample collection. The sampling plan will be unique for each school.

Sites selected should be regularly used. For example:

  • Drinking fountains
  • Cafeteria/food preparation areas
  • Reusable water bottle filling stations.

Who is responsible for what?

Water systems — Cal Water in this case — are responsible for the costs to develop sampling plans, collect samples, perform tests, and communicate results to DDW and the school.

Schools are responsible for corrective actions needed if they exceed the Action Level, as well as for sharing sampling results with their school board, parents, students, and other stakeholders.

Our water system

We work daily to ensure the water we provide to customers meets or surpasses all federal and state water quality standards. That includes following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule to the letter. In addition to complying with those sampling regulations, we ensure the safety of our water systems by rigorously monitoring water quality, maintaining and upgrading our water systems to ensure that water circulates properly, testing the corrosiveness of the water and adding corrective measures when needed to prevent lead from plumbing fixtures from affecting water quality, and carefully planning and conducting thorough water quality testing before using any new source of water.

More information

For more information on Cal Water’s lead testing in schools program, please contact your local Customer Center.

For the DDW’s guidelines and FAQ, visit the State Water Resources Control Board web site.