Arizona Lead in Drinking Water Program
The School Facilities Board, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Department of Health Services (ADHS), is working with Arizona school districts to remediate potential sources of lead in drinking water to address health and environmental concerns, develop testing protocols, evaluate the data, and implement any necessary remediation measures. School districts may apply for Building Renewal Grant (BRG) funding to replace drinking fountains and sink faucets, install in-line filters and conduct post-corrective action testing to ensure the availability of safe drinking water in Arizona schools.
Below is a link to the ADEQ website for information on the proactive screening program.
About the Program
The Lead in Drinking Water Program was created to identify and remediate elevated levels of lead in school drinking water sources. Areas of concern are where school staff and students gather such as classrooms and cafeterias where food is prepared. The intent of this program is to address health and environmental concerns, develop testing protocols, evaluate test results and implement necessary remediation measures.
Prior to the implementation of the proactive screening program, Nogales Unified School District had their water tested for lead. All of their schools were tested showing elevated levels of lead in non-drinking water sources. Their drinking water fountains did not show any exceedances. Through multiple rounds of testing, the source of lead was found to be six 30-year old, failing water heaters which were removed and replaced. Out of abundance of caution, the district put a plan into place providing filtered/bottled water and potable hand washing sinks for school staff and students use while the water heaters were being remediated.
As of January 2017, after learning of the exceedances of lead in drinking water, under the direction of the Governor’s Office, a Multi-Agency Task Force was formed comprising of the SFB, ADEQ and ADHS as a voluntary program to identify and qualify the drinking water and to what extent a public health concern may exist. The presence of lead in drinking water does not automatically present a concern as there are various other critical factors, such as the quantity of lead consumed over a period of time, as well as the biological properties of the consumer of the infected water.
The SFB is coordinating with all school districts that have received confirmation test results greater than 15ppb, which is the screening level designated by ADEQ for all the testing done in this program. The SFB is providing funding for corrective actions of the faulty fixtures with Building Renewal Grant (BRG) funding. School Districts can also fund corrective actions through their in-house Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Budget.