Water Testing for Lead
Flushing and Testing for Lead in Drinking Water
The Upper Grand District School Board has been testing lead levels in school drinking water since 2007. The Ontario government requires that child care centres and schools flush the plumbing in their facilities and test drinking water for lead. New amendments to the provincial regulation took effect in 2017 that require lead testing within these facilities for all designated fixtures used to provide drinking water and/or prepare food or drink for children under 18.
To view the Ministry of Environment’s guide on flushing and sampling for lead and to learn more about the rules for testing at schools, please visit the Ministry website.
Procedures and Corrective Actions
The UGDSB has strict testing protocols that operate in accordance with provincial legislation. UGDSB staff are extremely diligent and follow the required procedures to the letter. If an exceedance is found in a school, corrective action is taken immediately.
Sampling takes place beginning each spring and through the summer. The majority of sampling and corrective action takes place during the summer, so that schools and caretakers can have a plan in place prior to the beginning of the school year.
Corrective action may involve taking the fixture out of service, increasing flushing, installing a NSF filter, or permanently rendering the fixture unusable. Fixtures with an exceedance in the flushed sample are either bagged or disconnected, and a ‘Handwashing Only’ sign is posted until the issue is resolved, so no one can use them for consumption. In most situations, fixtures are replaced and then re-tested.
Preventative Measures – Daily or Weekly Flushing
Schools, private schools and child care centres are required to flush their plumbing in accordance with Ontario Regulation 243/07. The frequency of flushing depends on several factors including:
- the age of the plumbing in the building; older buildings are more likely to have lead plumbing;
- lead test results from previous drinking water sampling;
- the location and use of drinking water fixtures;
- if there is an NSF certified filter installed on a drinking water fixture.
The following table provides guidance on how frequently you should flush:
DAILY – Flush daily if:
WEEKLY – Flush weekly if:
Applicable to all fixtures, except for “end of branch” taps. Flushing is not required for:
How long are records kept?
Records on flushing and testing must be kept for six years. The records for the most recent two years of flushing and testing must be available at the site of the facility for inspection by any member of the public during business hours, free of charge.