Water testing in San Diego schools to be completed this spring
Statement by Drew Rowlands
Chief Operations Officer
San Diego Unified School District
Beginning Tuesday, April 4, the City of San Diego will initiate water testing for lead across the San Diego Unified School District. It is anticipated that the water at all district schools, including charter schools on district property, will be tested for lead by the end of the traditional school year in June.
We are grateful to the City of San Diego for its partnership and cooperation on this vast undertaking. The comprehensive effort will take multiple months to complete due to the relevant regulatory requirements.
The safety and health of students and staff across San Diego Unified is the highest priority for the district. Therefore, we will be using a geographic approach that provides the most efficient testing. Five schools will be tested daily, beginning at the southeast corner of the district where some of the oldest district schools are located. City staff will work their way north and west until all of the testing is done.
Testing will occur in the early morning hours, before the school day begins. Up to five samples will be taken at each site. The sampling locations may include drinking fountains, cafeterias and food preparation areas. The city will analyze the water samples and notify the school district of the results.
If results indicate there is lead above allowable levels, district staff will determine the source of contamination and take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis (e.g., turn off water, replace fixtures and/or make plumbing repairs).
As a proactive measure, the district has established a district-wide flushing protocol to minimize the risk of exposure to lead that might be in the water. Every morning, all drinking water fountains and food service faucets will be flushed for a minimum of one minute prior to the first use each day. On the day that a specific faucet or sink is scheduled to be sampled, those fixtures will be secured the night before the sampling date and will not be flushed until that morning’s sampling is complete.
San Diego Unified is committed to keeping students, families, and the broader San Diego Unified community apprised of all developments and sample results.
Water for all San Diego Unified School District sites is provided by the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. The city, as a municipal water provider, is required to comply with state and federal regulations and, as such, it conducts numerous water quality tests and produces related reports. The standards of quality for the water it provides are extremely high.
As a result of a December 20, 2016, permit action by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Division of Drinking Water, all community water providers, including the City of San Diego, are required to test for lead in drinking water at K-12 schools.
District staff recently met with representatives from the Public Utilities Department to discuss this new program and inform city staff of our intent to request sampling at all district schools (including charter schools located on district property), and to develop an implementation plan. The program outlined above is a result of those meetings.
- Testing Water for Lead - District's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - English | Spanish
- Division of Drinking Water’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) document
- County of San Diego Health & Human Services Lead Resource webpage
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