The Carson City School District reports that all samples taken from water fountains and fixtures at school sites had lead levels well below the project Action Level for drinking water. The water quality threshold for lead in drinking water is expressed as an Action Level, which in this case is 20 micrograms per liter or higher (ug/L, also known as parts per billion).
The school district voluntarily partnered with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to explore the potential for lead in drinking water and food preparation areas of its elementary schools. Earlier this month, samples were collected from a selection of sites where the water had been standing in the piping overnight.
“With reports of the presence of lead in water infrastructures and schools in other parts of the country, we felt running a comprehensive test at our facilities would help ensure we continue to protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Richard Stokes, superintendent.
The sampling effort was part of a statewide voluntary program focusing on elementary schools in Nevada because small children are more sensitive to lead. NDEP reports that overall compliance with lead action levels are excellent in Nevada, but the law does not require sampling at schools. National attention on the matter in 2016 prompted the initiative using a grant from the US EPA to help gather more information about this important issue.
The internal water system at a school is not unlike water systems found in other buildings. Older plumbing and faucets can contain lead pipes, solder and brass taps that can allow lead to enter tap water. Residents who have questions about lead in their home’s water supply may get more information from the NDEP website at ndep.nv.gov/water/drinking-water.
Carson City residents who receive water from public water systems (i.e., if they pay a water bill) may also call the local water department for information or check the annual Water Quality Report sent out by the public water system each June.
Although it runs contrary to water conservation practices, a very simple way to reduce an identified lead problem is to let the water run in the morning before it is consumed. Among other options, the webpage above discusses how to flush out the water that has been sitting in the pipes overnight.