Over the next few weeks we’ll be breaking down key takeaways from our latest eBook, Best Practices: Water Management Programs For Facilities. This week, we’ll tackle section 1, Lead in Drinking Water. Lead can be found in most premise plumbing systems, especially those built before 2014 when plumbing materials could contain up to 8% lead. Any facility that provides water to young children or pregnant mothers should identify lead sources and reduce exposure. The best way to do this is to first test water in the building and take corrective measures when needed. Here are some highlights on how we recommend planning, monitoring & tracking, and communicating your lead testing program in your facility.
The first step in planning is to take inventory of every drinking and cooking water source within your facility. Think about short term remediation solutions that may be necessary.
In addition, each facility should:
- Conduct plumbing profile to ID water path & plumbing materials
- Assign codes to each fixture and plumbing assets
- Take photos and make a map
- Collect data on fixture type, models, water treatment
Monitoring & Tracking
Water samples collected from every fixture to provide a baseline sense of lead levels. Get “initial” and “flush” samples with EPA recommended bottle. Depending on the volume a given fixture can hold, these will represent different facets of the system. If lead is found in samples it’s crucial to look at nearby plumbing components. Lead check swabs are a low-cost way of testing for lead in metals.
After lab results arrive, each facility will need to weigh the cost of remediation strategies for impacted fixtures. Short term: restrict access to all fixtures with elevated lead.
- Remove fixture permanently if not often used
- Replace fixture/leaded materials with NSF-certified Lead Free products
- Purchase NSF-certified filters
- Place in-system flushing devices on laterals or fixtures to prevent stagnation and reduce corrosivity
Be sure to keep a record of all remediation activities and re-test each fixture after replacement. We recommend the following testing schedule:
Your communication plan should be prepped before you even begin testing. When you’re communicating about a lead testing program, think about who you need to communicate with (Parents, staff, other relevant stakeholders). Also think about what information you’re going to need to share:
- Why testing is being done: educate your community about where lead comes from, what you might find when you test, and what you will do to reduce lead sources if found
- Results: results should be shared immediately when they arrive, with clear notations explaining what they mean and what short term actions you are taking to protect public health
- Remediation plans: Be clear and actionable in your remediation plans, making sure what’s being done, when it’s being done, and how it’s being done are explained
To go more in-depth, download our full eBook here.