Testing for Lead in Drinking Water - Public and Nonpublic Schools

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Maryland law (Chapter 386, 2017) requires all occupied public and nonpublic schools, serving children in prekindergarten to grade 12, that receive drinking water from a public utility to test for the presence of lead in all drinking water outlets.

The first round of sampling required all school buildings serving students in prekindergarten through grade 5 and school buildings built before 1988 complete lead testing by July 1, 2018.

For a detailed description of the requirements, please see MDE’s Testing Requ​irements and Related Documents​.​


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the effective date?

 

House Bill 270 was signed into law on May 4, 2017.

The regulations (COMAR 26.16.07 Lead in Drinking Water - Public and Nonpublic Schools) became effective on April 9, 2018.​

Which schools are covered by the law?

 

​All occupied public and nonpublic schools serving children in pre-kindergarten to grade 12 that receive drinking water from a public utility.​

Which schools are not covered by the law?

 

​Schools that have their own individual well(s) and are already required to test for lead under the federal Lead and Copper Rule are not covered.​

Is the law applicable for daycare facilities?

 

​The law does not apply to facilities that are solely licensed by the Maryland Office of Child Care, such as daycare centers.​

What is required?

 

​All public and nonpublic schools, grades pre-K through 12, must test for the presence of lead in all drinking water outlets.​

When must schools test?

 

​Testing is to be conducted once every three years and must be performed during the regular school year while school is in session.​

When must initial testing occur?

 

​Testing will be phased in based on age of construction of the school building and age of the students:​


  Youngest Students in Grades Pre-Kindergaten-5 Youngest Students in Grades 6-8 Youngest Students in Grades 9-12
Building constructed before 1988 July 1, 2018 July 1, 2018 July 1, 2018
Building constructed in 1988 or later July 1, 2018 July 1, 2019 July 1, 2020
Building constructed after the effective date of the regulations Within 12 months of date of occupancy
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Can a school waive out of sampling altogether?

 

Yes. A waiver indefinitely exempts a school from testing for lead in all drinking water outlets until the school no longer meets the conditions of the waiver. There are three types of waivers for which a school can apply:

  • Type 1 - Prior Testing

    • No earlier than five years before the effective date of the regulations (April 9, 2018), the school has tested all drinking water outlets for the presence of lead in a manner that complies with the regulation;

    • A state-certified laboratory analyzed each of the test results; and

    • All test results are at a level of 5 ppb or lower.

  • Type 2 - Bottled Water

    • Only bottled water is used for drinking water and in food preparation, including ice making, in the building; and

    • Occupants do not have access to water from any drinking water outlet.

  • Type 3 - Lead-Free Building

    • The service line and plumbing connecting the school to the water main are lead-free as defined by Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act; and

    • All interior plumbing in the school is lead-free as defined by Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act; and

    • All drinking water outlets are lead-free as defined by the Annotated Code of Maryland, Business Occupations and Provisions Article, §§12-101, 12-605.1, and 12-605.2​

Who can collect samples?

 

​Lead samples may be collected by school personnel, laboratories, or other parties. The person who collects the samples does not need to be a state-certified water sampler. However, the samples must be analyzed by a laboratory certified by the State of Maryland to perform Metals 1 (lead and copper) analysis.​

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New! Important Information for Schools Testing During the 2020-2021 School Year

Maryland’s regulations require schools to test for the presence of lead in all drinking water outlets on a State-established three-year cycle, unless a waiver from future testing has been granted.  Since testing is required to be conducted when schools are in regular session, closures and capacity reductions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted such testing previously planned during the 2020-2021 school year.  Click on the links below to find additional information regarding the testing requirements and procedures, and advice about best flushing practices to enhance water quality in school buildings during the 2020-2021 school year:

Schools that plan to test during the 2020-2021 school year should conduct the complete round of standard testing with all samples collected before the end of the testing period (i.e., July 1, 2021) or by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, whichever occurs sooner.  The schools have 14 days (from the date of sample collection) to submit samples to a MD-certified laboratory, where the samples must be analyzed within 6 months of preservation.  The school shall then report all test results to MDE, MSDE, Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the appropriate local health department within 30 days of samples being analyzed by the laboratory.  This may be accomplished by submitting required reporting documents to testresults.leadschoolwater@maryland.gov​.​

Guidance on Testing for Lead in Drinking Water and Recommendation on Flushing Outlets in Schools during the 2020-2021 Academic School Year

Flowchart on Testing for Lead in Drinking Water and Recommendation on Flushing Outlets in Schools during the 2020-2021 Academic School Year​

School Building Flushing - Links to Guidance ​​


Status of Implementation

Summary of Results

As of October 12, 2021, MDE has received and verified a total of 63,569 first-draw lead sample results from 24 public school systems, 214 nonpublic schools, and 9 charter schools.

Of the 63,569 first-draw lead samples, 3,045 (4.79%) samples exceeded 20 ppb (i.e., previous Action Level effective through May 31, 2021): 1,183 (1.86%) were from drinking water outlets (i.e., consumption outlets), 1,861 (2.93%) were from non-consumption outlets, and 1 (0.002%) was from outlets with unknown use (i.e., a use determination could not yet be made).

Of the 63,569 first-draw lead samples, 9,900 (15.57%) samples exceeded 5 ppb (i.e., current Action Level effective June 1, 2021): 5,356 (8.43%) were from drinking water outlets (i.e., consumption outlets), 4,542 (7.14%) were from non-consumption outlets, and 2 (0.003%) were from outlets with unknown use (i.e., a use determination could not yet be made).

The following tables present the above information in greater detail and will be updated as more data become available.

Summary of First-Draw Sample Results for Public Schools​

Summary of First-Draw Sample Results for Nonpublic Schools

Summary of Frist-Draw Sample Results for Charter Schools​

 

Summary of Waivers and Deferrals

MDE has received 706 applications for a twelve-month deferral from initial testing, and, in consultation with MSDE, has granted approval to 702 applications. The remaining 4 applications did not meet the requirements for approval. MDE has received 122 applications for three-year deferrals in initial testing; 106 of these did not meet the requirements for approval, and the remaining 16 are pending due to review of supplementary information. MDE has received 151 applications for waivers from testing; 116 did not meet the strict requirements for approval, and the remaining 35 are under review at this time.​The following tables present the above information in greater detail and will be updated as more data become available.

Summary of Deferrals

Summary of Waivers

 

Annual Report to the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly

Period ending July 1, 2019​

Period ending July 1, 2018


Reporting Test Results

When emailing reporting forms, applications, or other documents, please name the forms using the following format: Name of form_name of school

All forms related to test results should be sent  to testresults.leadschoolwater@maryland.gov​

 

Waivers

When emailing reporting forms, applications, or other documents, please name the forms using the following format: Name of form_name of school

Guidance Materials

 

Law and Regulations

 

School IDs

 

Other Information

 

Contact Information

Questions? Call 410-537-3729 or email reporting.leadschoolwater@maryland.gov

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