Actions Needed After Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water

What actions are needed after testing? 

This depends on the lead results from testing. The actions and lead levels outlined below also apply to schools that conducted lead testing prior to the implementation of RCW 28A.210.410 unless remedial action has been taken or post-remediation retesting confirmed that elevated lead levels have been reduced to five or fewer parts per billion (ppb).

Test Results: 0–5 ppb

Per Chapters 28A.210.410 RCW and 43.70.830 RCW, no immediate action is needed if test results reveal lead levels are 5 or fewer ppb at all drinking water outlets. Schools built, or with all plumbing replaced, before 2016 are required to retest at least once every five years beginning July 1, 2026.

Test Results: Greater than 5 ppb

Outlets that tested greater than 5 ppb require remediation. Additionally, schools with one or more outlets that tested greater than 5 ppb are required to develop an action plan for remediation and communicate annually with the school community.

Schools must develop an action plan in consultation with DOH or their local health jurisdiction. DOH created an Action Plan Template (Word) that schools can use. The action plan must include: 

  1. Mitigation measures implemented since the lead test results were received (like shutting off outlets or marking as "hand wash only").
  2. A schedule of remediation activities, including use of filters, that adhere to the technical guidance. The schedule may be based on the availability of state or federal funding for remediation activities. Note: For a potential source of funding, see OSPI's Lead in Water Remediation Grant
  3. A plan for post-remediation sampling and testing to confirm remediation activities have reduced lead levels to 5 or fewer ppb. 

Schools with elevated lead levels (greater than 5 ppb) are required to annually communicate with students' families and staff as early in the school year as possible. Schools may choose to use or modify the community messaging template (Word). The communication must include:

  1. The health effects of lead exposure.
  2. A public website address for the most recent lead test results.
  3. Information about the school's plan for remedial action to reduce lead contamination in drinking water (i.e., the action plan).

Test Results: Greater than 15 ppb

For lead levels greater than 15 ppb, schools should immediately shut off the water to the outlet or make the outlet inaccessible for consumption. This can be done by bagging or taping off the area and providing signage.

The action plan and communication requirements outlined in the section above also apply to outlets that tested greater than 15 ppb.

Remediation Guidance

Lead in School Drinking Water Technical Guidance, DOH (PDF)

3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools, EPA


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