This webpage is designed to provide an overview of lead testing requirements, our results, and updates when we receive them.
About Lead Levels
Under new California state regulations, community water systems are testing for lead in drinking water at school sites in the state. Lead in water frequently originates from the corrosion of plumbing materials which allows the metal to leach into tap water.
The Safe Drinking Water Act and its "2017 Permit Amendments" allowed, but did not require, schools to request to have their potable water systems tested by its community water systems. Assembly Bill 746, effective January 1, 2018, later required community water systems to test lead levels of drinking water at all California public schools by July 1, 2019.
Assembly Bill 746 sets a regulatory reporting and action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) (or 15 micrograms per liter) for lead in drinking water in schools.
According to State Water Resources Control Board recommendations, if the lead level in a first-draw drinking water sample collected on a drinking water fixture at the school campus “exceeds 15 ppb“, the fixture must be removed from service and, if corrective action is taken, the fixture should be re-tested to confirm the lead level in water is not higher than the action level before being returned to service. School communities must be informed of any such lead findings and, as part of the investigation, water at the main entry point to the school campus must be tested.
Zero Tolerance in SCUSD
To ensure the health and safety of our students and staff, Santa Clara Unified School District is going beyond the legal requirement and following the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We will take out of service any fixture that tests at 5 parts per billion or higher (above the "lead not detected" level) until the source is identified, remediated, and retested.
Proactive Measures to Ensure Clean Drinking Water
We are fortunate to have local bond funding that has kept our facilities renovated and modernized to ensure that our campuses are well maintained and updated. As a result, we have been pleased to find that preliminary test results are quite encouraging. Starting in 1999, the bond program replaced all water lines, fixtures, and drinking fountains in our school buildings. Most underground waterlines were replaced as well during bond modernization. Further, our maintenance department installed three water stations/drinking fountains at every site and the District Office. The equipment is serviced regularly by our preventative maintenance staff and filters contaminants out, including lead.
We began our water testing program in 2017, before it was required, and completed it in October 2018, almost a full year before the deadline.
Water Testing Program and Results
In late 2017, we began working with our local water agencies in the cities of San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, to test water samples from all of our schools. Our water agencies tested five water outlets at each site without charge to the district. Fixtures were selected randomly from food service areas, high use water fountains, kindergarten classrooms, and common areas like a multipurpose room.
Initial water testing results for most school sites were "lead not detected", except for Bracher, Scott Lane, and Sutter* elementary schools, which detected lead below the required action level. Although the results were below the legally required action level, our protocol is to retest and remediate all fixtures that show a result other than lead "not detected" until a lead not detected result is achieved. The fixtures were retested and repaired or replaced. Review the full water testing summary report, which includes resampling and corrective action reports for each school site.
*The fixture at Sutter initially returned a result of 13.0 (under the required action level of 15.0). However, our protocol is to resample, remove from service, and remediate all fixtures that return a testing result above the lead "not detected" level until the result is lead not detected. When this fixture was resampled, it returned a result of 26.0 (above the action level). After remediation, it returned a result of lead not detected.
Companies Conducting the Tests
- City of Santa Clara
- City of Sunnyvale
- San Jose Municipal Water System
- Remove from service any fixture that tests above the "lead not detected" level (5 parts per billion)
- Identify the cause of contamination
- Remove the fixture
- Remediate or replace the fixture
- Re-test before returning the fixture to service