Lead in Water Program

  • Environmental Services Group (SPPS Facilities) conducts Lead in Water testing in all Saint Paul Public Schools/facilities in an effort to identify the potential drinking water sources with high lead concentrations and provide the District with safe lead free drinking water.

    To test for lead, samples are collected at schools in accordance with EPA and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines. The EPA and MDH has established the guideline for lead in school drinking water of 20 ppb.

    To be proactive about the health and safety of SPPS students and staff, Environmental Services Group (ESG) tested 100% of the fixtures in all schools/buildings from 2016-2018. Over 6,500 samples from 73 schools/buildings were collected and analyzed. 96.5% of fixtures showed results below the EPA/MDH threshold limit of 20 ppb. 5 year testing for all buildings is in the process of being conducted. 

     

    Testing Methodology and Protocol

    Purpose

    The district goal is to provide lead safe drinking water sources throughout all its facilities. This will include identification of water sources that are considered drinking sources, water testing, and follow-up procedures.

    Methodology

    This program is modeled after the Minnesota Department of Health’s “Reducing Lead in Drinking Water: A Manual for Minnesota’s Schools.” The program identifies potable water sources, sources of lead, and outlines follow-up procedures for fixtures testing high in lead content.

    Testing Protocol:

    1. Sample collection is performed on Sundays (low use day) to obtain a “worst case” sample of the drinking water a person may consume from a fixture.
    2. The water is the “first draw” of water from a fixture.
    3. The sample collection size is 250 ml.
    4. The samples are sent to a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) approved lab for analysis or analyzed with an approved anodic stripping voltammetry method.
    5. Test results should be at or below 20 parts per billion (ppb).
    6. All drinking water sources shall be sampled every five years.

    Drinking water sources include:

    • Drinking fountains
    • Sinks in classrooms (except science lab rooms in junior and senior highs)
    • All kitchen area sources
    • All nurse/heath area sources
    • Water dispensers (not bottled)
    • Restroom sinks
    • Office sinks
    • Boiler Room sinks and first draws
    • Additional sources may be added if they are identified as sources of consumption by the facility occupants

    High Test Results

    Fixtures testing above 20 ppb shall have a follow-up sample collected as outlined above AFTER the water has run for 15 seconds. If the sample analysis is at or below 20 ppb, this fixture is safe for drinking anytime provided it has been flushed for 15 seconds.

    Fixtures failing the “flush test” shall be either turned off until replacement of the fixture or labeled as not recommended for consumption.

    Corrective Actions

    The water fixtures impacted were shut off and “Out of Order” signs were placed to make sure no one used the water until the problem was fixed. The Facilities Department remediates the fixtures that tested high for lead by replacing them with new fixtures.

    in 2016 all faucets and fixtures were tested in all the water sources with high levels of lead were remediated in all the school buildings with focus on repairing the high priority areas first that included drinking water fountains, kitchen sinks and nurse room sinks.

    Medium priority areas were focused on next that included classroom sinks, restroom sinks and office work room sinks. Once all the medium priority areas were tackled, low priority areas like locker rooms, basement sinks, laundry sinks and maintenance/custodial closets were repaired.

    Hydration Stations

    To mitigate the high levels of lead found in drinking water fountains and to ensure that all the schools in the District have access to cold, filtered water, Facilities has purchased and installed at minimum 2 hydration stations at every school in the District. 

    Also, to provide ample access to hydration and easy water bottle filling for all our students and staff, part of the ARP funds are being allocated to install hydration stations.

    How Can I Learn More?

    For more information on lead in water, read the Minnesota Department of Health's guide on reducing lead in water in schools.

    For information about water quality and sampling for lead at home, contact your local water supplier or state drinking water agency. 

Additional Information