Department of Health Requirements for Lead in School Drinking Water

To address concerns about lead in drinking water and reduce children’s overall exposure to lead in the environment, Chapters 43.70.83043.70.83543.70.840, and 43.70.845 require the Department of Health (DOH) to do the following.   

Develop a Sampling and Testing Plan

  • At least annually, DOH will develop and publish a two-year plan for sampling and testing.
  • Before we can include a school in the sampling and testing plan, we must contact the school to determine if they contracted or plan to contract for sampling and testing.
  • We will update the two-year Sampling Plan (PDF) as we learn more about each school’s testing choice. Once we add a school to the testing plan, we will reach out to schedule sampling.

Conduct Sampling and Testing

  • DOH shall conduct sampling and testing for lead contamination at drinking water outlets in school buildings built, or with all plumbing replaced, before 2016 as specified in this section.
  • The requirement is met if a school contracts for sampling and testing that aligns with the technical guidance and submits test results to DOH. DOH will reach out to request test results from schools. Before submitting test results to DOH, review the Initial Testing Flowchart (PDF) and ensure that sampling and testing meet the requirements of RCW 28A.210.410 and DOH’s Technical Guidance (PDF).
  • Timeline:
    • All schools built, or with all plumbing replaced, before 2016 must be tested at least once between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2026.
    • Retesting for lead contamination in drinking water must be conducted no less than every five years beginning July 1, 2026.
  • Test results can be accessed on the Lead Test Results from Drinking Water in Schools webpage
  • The Washington Tracking Network offers Lead Risk and Exposure Data

Develop Technical Guidance

DOH shall develop and make available technical guidance for reducing lead contamination in drinking water at schools that is at least as protective of student health as any technical guidance on this topic issued by EPA's 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools. The technical guidance must include:

  • The technical requirements for sampling, processing, and analysis. Analysis must be conducted by a laboratory accredited by the State Department of Ecology (PDF).
  • Best practices for remediating elevated lead levels at drinking water outlets in schools. Best practices must include installing and maintaining filters certified by a body accredited by the American National Standards Institute.
  • Provisions of the technical guidance related to testing for the presence and level of lead in drinking water, as opposed to testing to identify sources of lead for remediation, must be designed to maximize detection of lead in water, and therefore must prohibit sampling or analytical methods that tend to mask lead contamination, including prestagnation flushing and removal of aerators prior to sampling.
  • School action plan guidance, which must address the schedule of remediation activities, including the use of appropriate filters.

See DOH’s Technical Guidance for Lead in School Drinking Water (PDF).


For more information, contact