Testing Water for Lead in Schools

Update: Gov. Wolf Announces $1.7 Million for Safer Water in Schools and Child Care Centers

With the passage of Act 39 of 2018, public schools have been given a choice about what to do regarding testing for lead in their water systems:

Either test for lead in your school's water, or discuss why your school is not testing at a public meeting, and record that discussion in the minutes.

Read the Department of Education guidance here.

If your school is located in the MAWC service area, and it is considering testing, we ask that you consider having our water quality experts present to ensure the validity of results.

The legislation reads:

Section 3.1. The act is amended by adding a section to read:

Section 742. Lead Testing.--(a) Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, and every school year thereafter, school facilities where children attend school may be tested for lead levels in the drinking water and any school facility whose testing shows lead levels in excess of the maximum contaminant level goal or milligrams per liter as set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Primary Drinking Water Regulations shall immediately implement a plan to ensure no child or adult is exposed to lead contamination drinking water and that alternative sources of drinking water are made available. (b) If a school entity does not test lead levels under paragraph (a) the school entity shall, at a public meeting, discuss lead issues in the school facilities. (c) If a test of lead levels under subsection (a) is elevated, the level shall be reported to the Department of Education and posted on the department's publicly accessible Internet website.

Also, please see the EPA webpage, “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities.”


At MAWC, corrosion control chemicals are used to "passivate" the water line, or reduce potential corrosion reactions and remove metals from suspension. 

Having regular flow of water makes the best use of these chemicals. While school water systems usually aren't used year-round, some research has been presented at American Water Works Association conferences to combat this issue.

Chicago Public Schools developed a slow-speed mechanical flushing device. 


The North Park Public Water District presented findings that showed how often this type of flushing resolved a lead reading, in their experience. They also presented how elementary and middle schools re-introduced the concept of student involvement, similar to crossing guards or hall monitors, to run the water each day to ensure the corrosion control chemicals were being taken advantage of fully. 


Louisville Water is currently developing a filter for water fountains that replaces the bubbler, or spout. While filter do need to be replaced, and maintenance is necessary, your school may wish to contact the developers of this device to see if this is a good solution for your school.