New online tool shows schools tested for lead

Parents in the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond will now be able to use a new map-based tool that shows which public schools in California have had their drinking water tested for lead.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s newest internet map is a response to the passage of Assembly Bill 746 by the state of California, which now requires community water systems to conduct lead sampling of drinking water in public K-12 schools prior to July 1, 2019.

“Our newly developed website allows the public to search the status of lead testing of drinking water at schools in their area,” Darrin Polhemus, the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water deputy director, said in a news release. “This tool allows the public to stay informed as we continue to receive more results from the mandatory testing of public schools.”

The bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2018, officials said, and approximately 30 percent of California’s 10,000 public schools have been sampled for lead testing.

With nearly 12 months to go before the deadline, none of the school districts in the SCV have completed the mandatory sampling for lead at any of their schools, according to the newly launched map.

A disclaimer at the opening of the map said only data submitted from January up to 60 days ago is reflected in the graphic, meaning there is a possibility that some SCV schools have already conducted their water testing and are waiting for the results to be released, water board officials said.

Lead sampling is to be done at all drinking fountains and faucets used for consumption and preparing food, and officials said systems that are not tested prior to the July 1, 2019, deadline could face enforcement action from the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water.

Most public, K-12 schools in California are served by the more than 1,200 community water systems in the state, according to state officials.

While community water systems are extensively and regularly testing their drinking water for hazardous chemicals, officials said lead could get into clean water at a school campus if there are corroded pipes or old fixtures on-campus.

Because California has newer infrastructure and less corrosive water than other parts of the country, less than 1 percent of all samples collected so far have detected elevated levels of lead, State Water Board officials said. However, national events have highlighted the importance of ongoing water quality monitoring, which is why Gov. Brown directed the board in 2015 to incorporate schools into the regular water quality testing that community water systems conduct at customers’ taps.

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