The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently proposed that K-12 schools test for lead in their drinking water through the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions currently under review.
In this article, we thought we’d share the news that we have so far, so that schools K-12 can understand what may be coming in terms of new requirements for lead water testing.
According to the Federal Register, the Daily Journal of the United States Government, the EPA is publishing final regulatory revisions to the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for lead and copper under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Summary of the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revisions
“The revised requirements provide greater and more effective protection of public health by reducing exposure to lead and copper in drinking water. The rule will:
- better identify high levels of lead,
- improve the reliability of lead tap sampling result,
- strengthen corrosion control treatment requirements,
- expand consumer awareness and improve risk communication.
“This final rule requires, for the first time, community water systems to conduct lead-in-drinking-water testing and public education in schools and child care facilities…” This final rule is effective as of March 16, 2021. 1
Lead and Copper Rule Revisions Compared to the Previous Lead and Copper Rule
Reference Guide for Public Water Systems Lead and Copper Rule Proposal Comparison
Current Lead & Copper Rule (LCR)
- Does not include separate testing and education program for CWSs at schools and child care facilities.
- Schools and child cares that are classified as NTNCWSs2 must sample for lead and copper.
Current Lead & Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR)
- Community Water Systems (CWSs) must conduct lead in drinking water testing and Public Education at 20% of K-12 schools and licensed child cares in service area every year.
- Sample results and Public Education must be provided to each sampled school/child care, Primacy Agency and local or State health department.
- Excludes facilities built after Jan. 1, 2014.
As you can see by the visuals above, 20% of K-12 schools and licensed child care centers must conduct lead in drinking water testing every year—all of which will be handled by Community Water Systems (CWSs).
In addition, K-12 schools and child care centers must complete the lead in drinking water tests by January 16, 2024. This is the deadline compliance date that has been set within the new Lead and Copper Rule Revisions.3
How the LCRR Protects Children in Schools
Since children have the most health risks from lead exposure, EPA is requiring that community water systems (CWS) test for lead in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.
Systems must conduct drinking water sampling at each elementary school and each child care facility they serve over no more than five years, testing 20 percent of the facilities they serve each year.
The Community Water Systems must provide:
- Sampling results to the school or child care facility AND information on actions that can be taken by the school or child care facility to reduce lead in the drinking water.
- Information to the school or child care facility on methods to communicate results to users of the facility and parents.
- Testing to secondary schools on request during the 5 years of mandatory elementary and child care facility testing,
- Testing to elementary schools and child care facilities on request after the first round of mandatory testing.
These requirements will provide schools and child care facilities with an understanding of how to create and manage a drinking water testing program that is customizable to their needs and an appreciation of the benefits of such a program.4
When Will K-12 Schools and CCCs Have to Start Testing for Lead in Drinking Water?
This requirement is fairly recent and we are still gathering more information on the specifics of the test requirements.
Here’s what we do know:
In California, many Child Care Centers have conducted their lead water tests in 2022 to meet the January 1, 2023 lead water testing deadline set by the California’s Health and Human Services Agency Department of Social Services. While the deadline has now passed, Child Care Centers can still get their testing done. We recommend that CCCs call Adviro at (844) 607-9667 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment as soon as possible — we can help you expedite the process from testing to filing the information required by the state agency.
How this test applies to the new EPA LCRR, we will still have to wait and see.
For K-12 schools, we are still researching the information on when the lead testing process can begin. Stay tuned as we are actively seeking out the important details. We’ll post them here as soon as we find out the requirements for both K-12 schools and Child Care Centers.
1 This final rule is effective as of March 16, 2021. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/15/2020-28691/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations-lead-and-copper-rule-revisions
2 Non-Transient Non-Community Water System (NTNCWS): A public water system that regularly supplies water to at least 25 of the same people at least six months per year. Some examples are schools, factories, office buildings, and hospitals which have their own water systems. https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/information-about-public-water-systems
3 Compliance dates: The compliance date for the revisions to 40 CFR part 141, subpart I, is set forth in § 141.80(a). The compliance date for the revisions to 40 CFR 141.2 is January 16, 2024, and the compliance date for 40 CFR 141.31 is January 16, 2024. The compliance date for changes made to 40 CFR part 141, subpart O (40 CFR 141.153(d)(4)(vi) and (xi) and 141.154(d)(1)), is January 16, 2024. The compliance date for changes made to 40 CFR part 141, subpart Q (§ 141.202 and appendices A and B), is January 16, 2024.
4 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/15/2020-28691/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations-lead-and-copper-rule-revisions (See General Information, Section F)