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    Water Quality at Seattle Public Schools
    Posted on 02/01/2019

    Water Quality at Seattle Public Schools

    The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we want to iterate that our drinking water is safe at all of our buildings. All drinking water sources pass rigorous testing standards that Seattle Public Schools adheres to.

    None of our drinking water sources at any Seattle Public Schools building or school have elevated levels of lead in the water. We are continuously improving these testing procedures, with funding from our local levy dollars, to ensure that our students and staff consume healthy, non-contaminated water while in our buildings.

    In addition to providing drinking water from our drinking fountains/bubblers, we also have numerous sinks for handwashing, which are not drinking water sources (such as in restrooms or classrooms). However, our sinks are tested, too, and the vast majority of them pass our drinking water standards.

    If water from a sink tests above the 10ppb/lead level, a sign is visibly posted, reminding students (and everyone) to not drink from the sink.

    FAQs about the Seattle Public Schools Drinking Water Quality Program

    Q: Do any drinking water fixtures in SPS schools test above 10ppb for lead?
    A: No.

    Q: Do any SPS schools’ non-drinking water fixtures – like sinks – test above 10ppb lead?
    A: Some do. When that happens, we post a sign reminding students (and everyone else) that it is not a drinking water source. Students and staff are made aware that our fountains/bubblers are the drinking water sources and that sinks are not drinking water sources. As the EPA points out, “Bathing and showering should be safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead over EPA’s action level. Human skin does not absorb lead in water.”

    Q: What is the standard in Seattle Public Schools?
    A: In 2004, SPS adopted the Drinking Water Quality Program that established the lead level at 10 parts per billion. Our standards exceed the national standard of 15ppb.

    Q: How often are drinking water sources in Seattle schools tested for lead?
    A: Every three years. Our testing program is somewhat unique, in that we are one of only a few school districts in the state to regularly test drinking water for lead. Our local levies support this additional level of safety for our students, staff and families. There is no state or federal standard that requires or recommends that schools test for lead in drinking water.

    Q: How many drinking water fixtures are in the school district?
    A: There are approximately 2,600 drinking water fixtures in our schools.

    Q: Does drinking water contain lead?
    A: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), virtually all drinking water contains some amount of lead. This is largely because of plumbing materials used in water systems. Congress addressed the issue in 1974 when the Safe Drinking Water Act became federal law. This law requires municipal water sources – like Seattle Public Utilities – to provide safe drinking water that meets EPA requirements.

    Q: Is there an acceptable level of lead in drinking water?
    A: The EPA has established a “lead action level” of more than 15 parts per billion (ppb). Therefore, according to the EPA, the acceptable level of lead in drinking water is 15ppb or less.

    Read more about the Seattle Public Schools Drinking Water Quality Program.