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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-8
February 1, 2018
Contact: Robert Oakes
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Announces
New Drinking Water Testing for Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water.

Last year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019.

“Students need fresh water, nutritious meals, and regular physical activity to be ready to learn and succeed in class,” Torlakson said. “Cooperation with local water systems is critical to ensure proper testing.”

Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children six years old and younger are most at risk because the brain is still developing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10% to 20% of total lead exposure for young children comes from drinking water.

The most prevalent sources of lead in drinking water are from pipes, fixtures, and associated hardware from which lead can leach. California generally has newer water infrastructure than other parts of the nation and lead problems are rare, but recent events in schools led to the new requirement.

In February 2017, the safety of drinking water was questioned after elevated levels of lead were discovered at three campuses in the San Ysidro School District in San Diego County.

In addition, Folsom Cordova Unified in Sacramento County started testing water last year at schools built before 1960 that have galvanized steel pipes. The testing was prompted by elevated levels of lead in water coming from a classroom tap in 2015.

The State Water Resources Control Board, in cooperation with the California Department of Education, previously required all community water systems to test school drinking water upon request by school officials. Information is available on the California Water Boards Lead Sampling of Drinking Water in California Schools External link opens in new window or tab. Web page.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 1, 2018
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