Water Safety Testing Results
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) began testing water outlets at schools for the presence of lead. The law requires that schools “must test for the presence of lead in all consumable 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 regulations 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 regulations require parents to be notified of results. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, schools on well water resumed sampling only under the Lead and Copper Rule.
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 stagnate in the pipes between 8 and 18 hours.
- All samples are first drawn samples and 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.
Effective June 1, 2021, Maryland updated MD HB 270 with the passage of MD HB 636 which lowers the Action Limit (AL) for lead in drinking water from the 20 parts per billion (ppb) stipulated in the 2017 legislation to 5 ppb. As a result, AACPS had to review the most recent test results for each location and identify each consumable outlet that tested between 5 ppb and 20 ppb. AACPS identified an additional 490 outlets that tested between 5 ppb and 20 ppb. Starting July 1, 2021, all those outlets were turned off and work orders were submitted to have each outlet replaced, removed, or reclassified as a non-consumable outlet by applying a “Hand Washing Only” sticker to the outlet.
It is critical to understand that the only change in reporting is the comparison of results to the new AL. There has been no retesting since passage of the legislation implementing the lower ppb AL. Reports simply re-compare results to the new AL.
All future lead in water testing will now recognize 5 ppb as the new AL.
2023-2024 School Year Sampling Plan:
AACPS will be sampling all the schools that are scheduled to be tested in the 2023-2024 school year starting in the fall. In addition, sampling will occur at all newly installed water fountains and previously elevated consumable outlets that have been replaced from previous years.