Lead in Drinking Water
Author: John Benson
Schools and municipal buildings should follow the 3Ts.
Schools and other municipal buildings in New York and across the nation generally are not required to monitor their taps for lead, copper or any other contaminants, but many are wondering what they should be doing to ensure the drinking fountains and cafeterias have safe, clean water. Keeping mindful of financial constraints and budgets, how do you successfully execute an accurate and financially sound sampling plan? How do you know it’s being done correctly? What do the results actually mean, and where do you go from there?
This is not a new issue or concern. B&L has been performing water quality sampling at schools, municipal buildings, and numerous other buildings for decades. So why are elevated lead concentrations being found in school drinking water now? Many reasons –– some of which are identifiable by following proper sampling protocols and experience.
With so much at stake, it pays to be educated and take a methodical approach to the testing and, if necessary, remediation. Fortunately, the EPA has several guidance documents available:
The lead and copper rule has been in effect since 1991. This website contains information on the rule, as well as clarifications on sampling procedures. https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/lead-and-copper-rule
Schools should start by considering the 3Ts of lead in schools: Training, Testing, and Telling. This documents gives good advice for schools wondering how to approach the issue, and how to address it in the community: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/toolkit_leadschools_guide_3ts_leadschools.pdf
The EPA website also contains guidance for voluntary testing at schools and child care facilities: https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/lead-drinking-water-schools-and-child-care-facilities
This webpage has guidance on the how’s, when’s and where’s of sampling. It’s important that your water/health professional follows the correct methodology so that you don’t end up resampling: https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/testing-schools-and-child-care-centers-lead-drinking-water
It’s clear that this issue can cause legitimate concern in communities. Approach it as you would any other health and safety issue. Get the facts, consult with an experienced water / health professional, and then calmly execute an effective plan to protect all involved.