The State Water Resources Control Board launched its effort to encourage K-12 schools in California to have their drinking water tested for lead. As part of this effort, the State Board’s Division of Drinking Water issued amended permits that require community water systems to test for lead at the schools in their service areas if sampling is requested by school officials in writing. Schools covered by the requirement include public, private, charter, magnet and non-public K-12 schools. Preschools and day-care centers are not included.
The State’s new requirement for the testing of lead in schools is a proactive measure. It is not in response to any incident reported locally or elsewhere in California.
Delivering safe drinking water to residents and schools is top priority for California’s public water agencies. Soquel Creek Water District takes lead exposure seriously. The District will take proactive steps to comply with this new requirement and respond within the regulatory timeframe for any K-12 schools in our service area that request lead sampling.
The drinking water we provide to homes, businesses and schools is safe and meets or exceeds all quality standards set by both the state and federal government. Our Water Quality staff continuously monitors the water supply, conducting over a thousand tests each year from water taken from sample points throughout our service area.
Unlike other areas of the country, California’s drinking water is generally at low risk for lead contamination, primarily due to the fact that lead service lines are not common in California. Lead service lines have not been identified in the District’s service area. However, some lead may be present in older homes or buildings where pipes were joined with lead solder before it was banned by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments in 1986. If lead is found in tap water, it is typically because the water chemistry has caused it to react and leach out metals from plumbing fixtures or pipes inside a home or building. The District’s water chemistry does NOT favor the leaching of metals because of its high natural mineral content, pH, and alkalinity (carbonate content).
Every 3 years, the District collects lead samples from at least 30 homes around the District. Last year, lead was detected in only one of the 31 samples tested. The sole detection was 7.9 parts per billion (ppb), well below the 15 ppb action level.
Parents who are concerned about any potential detection of lead in drinking water at schools are encouraged to contact the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency at 831 454-4646 for specific information on health effects. Additional information also can be found at the California Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Program website.
Additional information on the lead sampling requirement can be found on the State Water Board’s website