Water Safety Testing Results
LAST UPDATED March 7, 2020
In response to requirements stipulated in HB 270, passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan on May 4, 2017, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) tested water outlets at schools for the presence of lead. The law requires that schools “must test for the presence of lead in all drinking water outlets” in schools that are served by public water.
AACPS, along with several other school systems, was invited to participate in meetings to assist the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) in the development of the regulation. The Final regulation became effective April 9, 2018. AACPS began sampling in mid-March 2018, prior to the April 9, 2018, effective date.
The law and regulation define drinking water (consumable) outlets as “an ice-making machine, a hot drink machine, a kitchen sink, a classroom combination sink with drinking fountain, a sink in a home economics classroom, a teachers’ lounge sink, a nurse’s office sink, a sink in a special education classroom, and any other sink known to be used for human consumption.” The law and regulation also mandate that sampling must be done while school is in session. Thus, no sampling could be done over the summer months.
AACPS resumed sampling in September 2018 and completed initial testing in all schools, even those served by well water (not required by this law), during the 2018-2019 school year. The law and regulation require parents be notified of results, even if those results show levels below the threshold of 20 parts per billion.
In addition to outlets designated as drinking water outlets, AACPS tested “Bathroom and classroom sinks not clearly signed as not a drinking water outlet…” as stipulated in the regulation. These outlets are considered non-consumable outlets.
The first results received from Martel, the independent and accredited lab with which AACPS has contracted to do this work, were delivered to schools and parents in late April 2018. AACPS subsequently contracted with a second independent and accredited lab. As results arrived, students and parents were provided with a several-page summary and information directing them to the full report online. AACPS also created this website with all summaries and full reports posted for public viewing. Full reports are also available in all schools.
The sampling process is defined by the regulation and the preparations that were required for sampling include:
- Utilizing a printed map, visiting each school and confirming the location of each water source. The primary purpose for doing this is to assign a unique identification to each source to ensure future information is accurately identified for each water source.
- Prior to any sample that is taken, it is a requirement that the water has to sit in the pipes between 8 and 18 hours.
- All samples must be taken before students and staff arrive at school in the morning because if outlets are turned on and water flows, the integrity of the sample is compromised.
AACPS tested 14,251 total outlets, 13,506 (94.77 percent) of which did not have elevated levels of lead. Of the 745 outlets (5.23 percent) which had elevated levels of lead, 112 – or 0.79 percent of the outlets tested – were consumable water outlets.
Those 112 outlets were all shut off within 24 hours of AACPS receiving results of elevated levels, and the fixtures were replaced.
Spring 2019 Lead in Water Testing:
AACPS retested 21 “critical consumable outlets” – defined as those in kitchens, Family and Consumer Science classrooms, and health rooms that have a direct impact on school operations. Additionally, AACPS tested consumable and non-consumable outlets at high school outdoor concession stands and team rooms that had been winterized as well as new school additions that had not yet been completed during the first round of testing.
AACPS did not retest all consumable outlets that failed the initial testing due to the limited time that remained in the school year. Per the regulation, all water testing must occur during the school year. These outlets will remain off until they are retested and determined to be below the action limit.
Any retested “critical consumable outlet” for which results indicated an elevated lead level remained shut off. Those outlets which were retested and showed no elevated lead level were put back in operation. As was the case in the initial round of testing, non-consumable outlets which had elevated lead levels have been clearly marked so it is evident the water is not intended for drinking.
Upon further review of the regulation, AACPS noticed a change was needed on the parent notification. This change does not involve the accuracy of the lead results. It mentions that if a non-consumable outlet failed, it would be replaced and retested. Although all non-consumable outlets that failed were replaced, they were not retested. What was not indicated in the original parent notification was that per Maryland House Bill 270, Section .03 Definitions, Subsection 6c, “Drinking water outlet does not include an outlet clearly signed as “not a drinking water outlet.” Per the regulation, AACPS has marked all non-consumable outlets with “Hand Washing Only” signage. Signs were applied to all non-consumable outlets whether the outlet passed or failed. Therefore, AACPS will no longer test or retest non-consumable outlets.
2019-2020 School Year Sampling Plan:
AACPS’ testing plan moving forward is as follows:
- Consumable outlets in Lead Testing Area 1 (see Lead in Water Testing Area List). This includes all retests of failed consumable outlets from the initial testing in this area. The regulation requires all schools be tested every three (3) years. AACPS has decided to test one-third of the schools every year.
- Retesting of all failed consumable outlets from the initial testing in the Lead in Water Testing areas 2 and 3.
- New consumable outlet installations. These installations occur throughout the school year as needed.
- Consumable water outlets in new schools and new school additions that will be occupied for the first time in the 2019-2020 school year.
- Retest (if any) all failed consumable outlets in the current school year Lead in Water Testing Area.
There are sufficient working drinking water outlets at all schools so that bottled water is not needed. Students at any AACPS school, whether it has been tested or not, will be allowed to carry water bottles to class should they choose to do so.