Lead Testing of School Drinking Water

New York State Laws and regulations require all public school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to test drinking water for lead contamination, and to take action if lead exceeds the actionable threshold. If any fixture exceeds the lead action level (15 micrograms per liter ), it must be immediately taken out of service until actions are taken to mitigate the lead levels. Schools must notify staff, parents, and guardians of students in writing when outlets exceed the action level indicating contamination and maintain test results on their websites.

Plumbing materials, including pipes, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as lead-free, may contribute lead to drinking water. Water not consistently in use runs the risk of having higher lead levels if the plumbing contains lead. This is why it is important to identify and address elevated levels of lead in drinking water in schools as part of reducing a child’s overall exposure to lead in the environment.

Information for Families

You can find your school’s lead test results on Health Data NY by searching the 2016 Compliance Year Data. If you are concerned with lead in drinking water at home, you can order a free lead test.

Information for Schools

The regulation required school districts and BOCES to perform lead testing in 2016, 2020 and at least every five years thereafter or at an earlier time as determined by the Commissioner of Health.

Testing and Remediation

Public schools and BOCES must test all water outlets that are used, or could potentially be used, for drinking or cooking by or for students. Watch this NYS DOH video that shows how to sample for lead in school drinking water. You may also refer to the Sampling Quick Reference Guide. Schools must use a laboratory that is approved to perform lead testing in potable water by the Department’s Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP). Find a Certified Laboratory for Conducting Lead Testing in School Drinking Water. Following any lead action level exceedance, the school must take remedial actions to mitigate the lead level at the exceeding outlet(s). These sample signs may be posted on outlets.

View the presentation provided to the schools for 2020 testing, remediation, and reporting information.

Reporting

Schools are required to report lead results to the public, their local health department, the NYS DOH and NYS Education Department. For reporting lead results that exceed the lead action level to the public, schools may use the Public Notification Letter Template.

To report test results and other required information to the NYS DOH and NYS Education Department, schools must complete the School Lead in Drinking Water Reporting form using the NYSDOH’s electronic reporting system called HERDS. To access the form in HERDS, schools must use the Health Commerce System (HCS). For assistance in gaining access to the HCS and HERDS review these instructions.

If you need additional assistance, email lead.in.school.drinking.water@health.ny.gov or call 518-402-7650.

Additional Resource for Schools