SPPS Lead in Water Testing
The Saint Paul School District (SPPS) conducted the water testing program to make sure that drinking water in the school system is safe for children and school staff. Water with high lead levels can contribute to negative health effects, especially in young children.
Following instructions given in EPA and MDH guidance documents especially designed for schools to reduce lead in drinking water, Environmental Services Group (ESG) with the help of Institute of Environmental Assessment (IEA) conducted lead in water testing from April 2016 to August 2016. More than 6,500 water samples from across the school district’s 72 buildings were collected and analyzed.
ESG developed a sampling plan that includes protocols for sampling water at every tap and fixture in every school building in the District.
•Sample collection was performed on Sundays
•“First draw” of water from a fixture (first water to come out of the fixture that has not been used for at least 12 hours)
•Sample collection size - 250 ml
•Samples were analyzed on site using EPA verified field testing instrument called ANDalyze Fluorimeter.
•10% of the samples were submitted to a certified lab for quality analysis
Results of Testing:
We found that:
- 96.5 percent of the samples taken from various water sources from the buildings showed lead levels below the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb).
- 3.5 percent (233 samples) of the samples showed lead levels above the standard limit.
- While this is concerning, it is important to note that the follow-up flush testing in which the tap is opened for exactly 15 seconds before collecting the sample, showed that only 13 samples of the 233 failed the flush test.
- These results indicate that the lead in water is likely the result of individual fixtures and not pervasive to our water supply or plumbing systems.
The water fixtures impacted were shut off and “Out of Order” signs were placed to make sure no one used the water until the problem was fixed. The Facilities Department remediated the fixtures that tested high for lead by replacing themwith lead- free fixtures.
As of November 9th 2016, all the water sources with high levels of lead have been remediated in all the school buildings with focus on repairing the high priority areas first that included drinking water fountains, kitchen sinks and nurse room sinks. Medium priority areas were focused next that included classroom sinks, restroom sinks and office work room sinks. Once all the medium priority areas were tackled, low priority areas like locker rooms, basement sinks, laundry sinks and maintenance/custodial closets were repaired.
To mitigate the high levels of lead found in drinking water fountains and to ensure that all the schools in the District have access to cold, filtered water, ESG with the help of a contracting agency has purchased and installed more than 30 hydration stations at various schools in the District the tested high for lead. Also, to provide ample access to hydration for all our students and staff, ESG is in the process of installing 25 hydration stations in schools cafeterias that needed the most. Moving forward ESG would like to implement as many stations into schools as financially possible.
ESG is now doing the follow-up testing of all the water sources that were repaired to make sure the levels of lead are below the EPA/MDH standard limits and the problemsare fixed.
How Can I Learn More?
You can see results of SPPS lead in water testing on our Web site at
For more information about water quality in our schools, please contact ESG at the Facilities department at the One-Stop number 651-744-1800
For more information on Lead in Water:
For information about water quality and sampling for lead at home, contact your local water supplier or state drinking water agency.