Water Testing in New York Public Schools

Since 2016,  New York state law has required all school districts (including BOCES) to test all water outlets used for drinking or cooking for lead. School districts were required to complete a new round of lead testing in 2020.

The state established an action level of 15 micro grams of lead per liter, typically referred to as “parts per billion (ppb). If a sample from a water outlet exceeds this level, schools must: 

  • take immediate steps to prohibit the use of the outlet for drinking or
    cooking purposes;
  • communicate results;
  • implement a remediation plan; 
  • ensure that students and staff have an adequate supply of water for drinking
    and cooking in the meantime.

School districts are required to report the results of all water testing to the state Department of Health, the state Education Department and the local health department, and to post the results along with remediation plans, if required on the official district website.

Capital Region BOCES Water Testing Results for 2020 

2020 Test Results for Capital Region BOCES’ Schools

Remediation As A Result of 2020 Testing 

Twelve out of more than 200 water outlets potentially used for drinking or cooking in three Capital Region BOCES-owned schools tested for lead at levels higher than the state’s action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Career and Technical School – Albany Campus

Eleven (11) water outlets were identified as having levels greater than the state’s action level. All of the water outlets in Albany remain in use with signs warning not to drink the water or use for cooking affixed above them. The signage along with internal procedures and the supervision of students meet the requirements of the state law.

  • F4 Bath Sink 2

  • F5 Drinking Fountain

  • B5 Drinking Fountain

  • C5 Drinking Fountain

  • Building C – Hall H/C  Bath Sink

  • B7 Bath Sink

  • A8H Bath Sink

  • A10H Bath Sink

  • A6 Bath Sink 1

  • A6 Bath Sink 2

  • A13 Bath Sink

Career and Technical School – Schoharie Campus

  • No water sources were identified.

Maywood School

One water source was identified. Signs warning not to drink the water were posted on this water source. This combined with internal procedures and the supervision of students will ensure that the water is not used for drinking or cooking. The signage along with internal procedures and the supervision of students meet the requirements of the state law.

  • One (1) drinking fountain located in Room 5.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lead Testing In Schools

Why are school districts testing for lead?

New York adopted these water testing regulations to help ensure that
children are protected from lead exposure while in school. According to
the state Department of Health, lead is a common metal found in the
environment, but it is also a toxic material that can be harmful if ingested
or inhaled. Although the primary source of lead exposure for most children
is lead-based paint, exposure can also come from drinking water as a result
of the lead content of plumbing materials and source water. While federal
law now restricts the amount of lead used in new plumbing materials, the
corrosion of older plumbing and fixtures in many buildings can cause lead
to enter drinking water.

Where will districts test for lead?

School districts must collect samples to be tested from every possible
source of water used for drinking and cooking in any buildings that may
be occupied by students. These outlets include, but may not be limited to,
drinking fountains (both bubbler and water-cooler types), kitchen sinks,
classroom combination sinks/drinking fountains, student restroom sinks
and nurse’s office sinks. To comply with the regulations, water samples
must be collected when water has been motionless for at least 8 hours but
no more than 18 hours.

How often are schools required to test for lead?

Schools will need to conduct water testing every five years, or sooner, if
required by the state Commissioner of Health.