Lead Sampling of Drinking Water in California Schools

Recent events in the United States have shown that lead in drinking water remains an on-going public health concern, particularly for children. Lead rarely occurs naturally in California’s drinking water sources, but may become present when water passes through older plumbing fixtures or solder containing lead that connects plumbing.

In January 2017, the Division issued permit amendments to community public water systems serving K-12 schools requiring them to collect and analyze up to five water samples at each K-12 school that requests sampling. Once requested, the water system must then sample within 90 days. Community Water System (CWS) is a public water system that supplies water to the same population year-round. West Valley Water District collected and analyzed lead testing for ten (10) schools in 2017.


Subsequent to the issuance of these permits, AB 746 was passed and signed by the Governor on October 13, 2017. The Bill goes into effect on January 1, 2018, requiring a community water system to test all public K-12 schools before July 1, 2019, based on specific criteria listed in the Bill.

Lead: If present, elevated levels above 15 µg/L of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for young children and pregnant women.  Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the regulated limits may experience delays in their physical or mental development.  Children may show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults who drink this water over many years may develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

Homes built prior to 1986, which have had no plumbing upgrades, may have higher than acceptable lead levels in drinking water. Homes built after 1986, when laws were passed restricting the lead content of faucets and pipes, do not post the same risk.