In January 2017, California released a directive through the State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water (DDW) for all water agencies to provide free testing for lead in drinking water for all K-12 public, private, and charter schools directly served by the water agencies.
While California generally has newer infrastructure and lead service lines are not a prevalent issue, the news from Flint, Michigan has understandably caused concerns about any exposure to lead, particularly for children, considered to be the most vulnerable to lead exposure.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) recently completed lead testing in all of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District (LTUSD) schools, even those not served by the STPUD. A total of 40 samples were collected. Five samples were collected at each elementary school and the middle school. Ten samples were collected from the high school. The most heavily used drinking and kitchen faucets were selected for sampling. The results can be found at here.
Sampling was conducted by the STPUD laboratory staff in April 2017. The samples were sent for analysis to a California state certified laboratory. The state requires lead to be tested with a minimum detection limit for reporting (DLR) of 5 µg/L (5 parts per billion). The laboratory we use is able to achieve a more sensitive DLR of 0.5 µg/L.
Of the 40 locations tested, all but one was below the action level of 15 µg/L (15 parts per billion) with the majority having results of “Not Detected” or ND.
All 10 samples from the recently renovated high school were ND, even the kitchen faucet.
The only sample to exceed the action level was the Al Tahoe/Boys and Girls Club MPR drinking fountain. The result was 32 µg/L. A repeat test confirmed the result. This fountain was removed from service immediately and will not be placed back into service until the lead source is identified and removed.
Two school kitchen samples were above the State’s DLR of 5 µg/L but below the action level:
Al Tahoe/Boys and Girls Club Kitchen Faucet: 5.8 ug/L
Tahoe Valley Kitchen Faucet: 7.8 ug/L
The LTUSD instructed their personnel to run the kitchen faucets for 10 seconds before collecting water for use. This will flush any water tainted by lead in the fixture out of the system.
Over the next year the school district plans on replacing and retesting all kitchen fixtures. The kitchen fixtures at Al Tahoe and Tahoe Valley will be replaced by the end of July, 2017. Their goal is to have all fixtures test ND by next year.
The LTUSD sent an email to school parents informing them of the tests results and their actions.
More information on lead sampling is available on the State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water’s website: