Opportunities for Water Utilities to Collaborate with Schools/Daycares to Address Lead in Plumbing
Help the School / Child Care Understand the Source of Lead in Drinking Water
A school or child care facility administrator may benefit from a better understanding of how lead leaches from facility plumbing. As a utility, you may choose to provide information on water quality factors affecting the water’s corrosivity. You may also explain your corrosion control program to affirm your utility’s commitment to minimizing lead exposure at the tap. Simply providing your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) may be helpful.
Developing a Sampling Plan
Water quality sampling is a familiar task for drinking water suppliers, but not for most schools and child care facilities. Some utilities have informed appropriate school staff about the critical elements of a sound sampling plan. Those elements include identifying and tracking sample locations, proper timing of sample events, sampling protocols and management of sample results.
Proper Sample Collection
Proper sampling technique is essential to obtaining correct lead sample results. Some utilities have assisted school systems and child care facilities in proper sampling protocols. This assistance may include direct participation in training events or a train-the-trainer technical assistance strategy.
Water suppliers may provide information on lab services needed for processing lead samples. Assistance in this area has taken a number of forms, including explaining the appropriate analytical methods, identifying certified laboratories and assisting in selection of laboratory services. In some cases, utilities have provided analytical services through their in-house laboratories.
Reviewing Results and Options to Control Lead Exposure
As a water supplier, you may have personnel available to interpret sample results and identify cost-effective control solutions. Utility staff is trained in the basic issues of corrosion chemistry and hydraulics. They also have practical experience operating water distribution facilities, flushing pipe networks, installing automated valves, and employing other procedures unfamiliar to most school and child care personnel.
Utility Assistance in a Targeted Evaluation Effort
In school districts with multiple buildings dedicated to teaching, the water utility may offer support in evaluating lead levels in a limited or targeted group of facilities. For example, the utility might help a school system develop a pilot approach to evaluating its facilities. If successful, the school staff would then apply that approach to other facilities. The utility may also assist in identifying the characteristics of buildings that make them especially vulnerable to elevated levels of lead in the drinking water.
Large-Scale Involvement in Lead Action Plan
Depending on local circumstances (especially governance), a water utility may choose to become deeply involved in addressing school system or child care facility lead action plans. For example, the utility may be an active participant in a stakeholder.
Understanding EPA's 3Ts Program
U.S. EPA released an updated 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water toolkit to provide guidance and resources for schools, child care facilities, states and water systems to implement voluntary lead in drinking water testing programs. The 3Ts are training, testing and taking action.
The toolkit contains customizable templates, supplemental fact sheets and checklists. It's organized into section sections:
- Communicating the 3Ts
- Learning About Lead in Drinking Water
- Planning Your 3Ts Program
- Developing a Sampling Plan
- Conducting Sampling and Interpreting Results
- Remediation and Establishing Routine Practices
In partnership with AWWA and various other organizations, U.S. EPA released a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Reducing Lead Levels in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities. The MOU provides a framework for a coordinated approach between partner organizations to focus on testing for and addressing lead in drinking water for schools and childcare facilities.