skip to main content

Water Quality Reports

Testing for Lead in Drinking Water

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will begin in September 2018 to test all schools for the presence of lead in school drinking water. The testing is being conducted to comply with a new state regulation requiring lead testing of drinking water outlets in all Maryland schools and not because of any concerns with drinking water in Howard County schools. The state regulations apply to all Maryland school systems.

The testing applies only to water outlets where water is intended for consumption, including drinking fountains, cafeteria sinks, etc. Signs will be displayed on any non-drinking water outlets not subject to the water sampling, such as those in custodial sinks or science classrooms. The presence of a sign indicates only that a particular faucet has not been sampled; it does not indicate that a particular water supply is, or suspected of, lead contamination.

HCPSS will sample and analyze water from all drinking water outlets in every school during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. Schools serviced by well water are not required to be tested by the state, however, these schools will be included in HCPSS testing.

Details about the testing schedule, procedures and other information is provided in the Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information:

HCPSS Contact:

Christopher Madden, Certified Industrial Hygienist/IEQ Manager, in the HCPSS Office of the Environment

Frequently Asked Questions

Which water outlets will be tested?

HCPSS will test water at all school fountains, ice machines, cafeteria sinks and any other outlets typically used to dispense drinking or cooking water.

Testing will not be conducted on faucets intended for hand washing, cleaning or other non-drinking purposes, such as those in utility rooms, restrooms, related arts classrooms (art, technology education, and music), or science classrooms. Skin does not readily absorb lead in water; therefore even if lead were present, handwashing does not represent a health risk even when hands have minor cuts or scrapes.

How will non-sampled outlets be identified?

All outlets not subject to sampling will display mandated signage issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that indicates the outlet is not to be used for consumption, but only for hand washing.

The sign simply indicates that a particular faucet has not been sampled, and does not indicate that a particular water supply is, or suspected of, lead contamination.

When will my child’s school be tested?

The regulation allows school systems to perform testing in three tiers over a three year period. The tiers are in order of high to low priority based on age of student population (elementary, middle, high) and the school’s construction date.

HCPSS plans to complete the sampling for Tier I (all elementary schools, and middle and high schools constructed before 1988) and will begin Tier II schools (middle schools constructed during or after 1988) during the 2018-2019 school year. All remaining schools will be sampled during the 2019-2020 school year.

The regulation stipulates that sampling must occur during the regular school year, while school is in session. This is done so that the samples will be representative of conditions when the majority of staff/students are in the building.

What happens if lead is detected?

The law sets an action level of 20 parts per billion (ppb) for lead. If an outlet exceeds this level, the outlet must be closed and remedial actions initiated. Confirmatory sampling would be performed after remedial actions are completed.

How will I be notified if lead is detected at my child’s school?

Should any test indicate the presence of lead exceeding 20 ppb, HCPSS would promptly notify staff, the community, MDE, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and the local health department.

A second notification would be issued after all remedial actions are complete and have been confirmed through follow-up sampling.

Where can I find reports of the results of lead testing for my school?

All test results will be accessible on the school website within 30 days after the report is received.

How does lead enter the water supply?

The primary route of entry for lead to enter drinking water is through the plumbing system. Lead can leach into the drinking water from pipes, fittings and solder (used to connect copper pipes). To prevent this, water treatment plants add a corrosion inhibitor to the municipal water system. The inhibitor lines the interior of the pipes, protecting the pipes from leaching lead into the system. HCPSS receives water from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and Baltimore City. Both reportedly add corrosion inhibitors to their water supply.

How has HCPSS prepared?

HCPSS Office of the Environment staff have diligently prepared for successful testing and have completed the following actions.

  • Participated in MDE work group and training sessions.
  • Updated outlet inventory and assigned sample identifications to outlets.
  • Solicited qualified vendors for sample collection and analysis services.
  • Developed a written program and means to manage analytical data.
  • Acquired and and begun posting signage at appropriate water outlets.

Well Water Quality Reports

The following reports are generated for schools where water is provided by a well.

The language used in the reports is based on EPA’s Guidance document, Preparing Your Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report. The reports are designed to resemble the required annual consumer confidence report provided to consumers by their public water utility/provider informing them about their drinking water.

Should you have questions or comments, please contact the Office of Safety, Environment and Risk Management at 410-313-6699.

November 2017

October 2016

Lead Test Results

Ten (10) lead water samples were collected at each of these schools to assess lead levels in drinking water. All tests came up negative at each school.

June 2018

June 2016