State-mandated testing for lead in water at school sites delayed

September 19, 2018

NEEDLES — Testing the water at Needles’ school facilities is running a bit later than expected but should easily be completed within the time frame set by the state.

The California State Water Resources Control Board under Assembly Bill 746, which took effect Jan. 1, requires that water supplies of kindergarten through 12th-grade public schools be tested for lead. The city-owned water utility will do the testing, originally planned for late August.

“We were shipped the wrong bottles to do the test at the school sites which backed us up but we will hopefully get the test done soon,” said Jerry Porter, chief operator for the city of Needles water department. “We need to get with the Needles Unified School District to locate the bottle refillers, drinking fountains and anywhere that drinking water is available with the most traffic to take the test.”

Mary McNeil Ph.D., Needles Unified School District superintendent, reported earlier this year that, “A lot of our water pipes have already been replaced when we rebuilt the cafeteria and remodeled a couple of our sites, so I don’t anticipate any issues.”

AB 746 requires a community water system that serves a school site of a local educational agency (LEA) with a building constructed before Jan. 1, 2010, to test for lead in the potable water system on or before July 1, 2019. The bill states that if the lead level exceeds 15 parts per billion, the LEA shall notify the parents and guardians of the pupils who attend the school site or preschool where the elevated lead levels are found. The LEA shall take immediate steps to shut off all fountains and faucets where excess lead levels may exist. Additional testing may be required to determine if all or just some of the school’s fountain’s and faucets are required to be shut down.

The bill states that the community water system shall report its findings to the school site within 10 business days after it receives the results from the testing laboratory or within two business days if it is found that the school site’s lead level exceeds 15 parts per billion.

To find out more about the Lead Sampling in Schools Program and information on AB 746, visit the State Water Board’s webpage https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/leadsamplinginschools.html.

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