October 8, 2018 - Testing for Lead in Drinking Water

As part of all of the work we do in the Ann Arbor Public Schools to attend to the health and wellbeing of all of our students and staff, we also have our attention on the quality of our drinking water in our schools. We are committed to achieving the lowest possible levels of lead in drinking water in the AAPS, and we take very seriously the risks associated with lead exposure, particularly with our youngest children. 

We have voluntarily tested water annually in all AAPS schools since spring, 2016, and we have addressed any and all issues of parts per billion (ppb) measures of >15ppb, established as an action level by the EPA.

We have implemented a plan in the AAPS to address Lead in Drinking Water through a 4-part process:

  • Annual testing in all AAPS buildings, and follow up mitigation
  • Replacement of aged water fountains with new hydration stations
  • Education of students, staff, and community to ensure all use trusted and safe locations for drinking water consumption, and
  • Consistent continued communication with our parents and the Ann Arbor community regarding Lead in Drinking Water in the AAPS

Testing & Mitigation

The next cycle of testing for lead in drinking water is scheduled for October & November 2018.

With the overall goal of the program to reduce exposure to lead, in this next round of testing, we will lower the threshold for when we implement the AAPS protocol for addressing an issue.

Remediation efforts will be implemented when lead levels are at >10 ppb, and additional attention will be paid to any water fixtures that are between 5 and 10 ppb.

Testing in AAPS schools is focused on high-priority locations, including drinking fountains, kitchen sinks, and classroom water fixtures. We have increased the number of locations tested at each campus during this time; water testing is conducted by Arch Environmental Group, professional partners to AAPS on environmental issues. Arch Environmental Group fulfills a similar service for 47 other school districts in Michigan.

The AAPS protocol for addressing an issue, when lead levels read at >10ppb, may include replacing water fixtures, and, in some cases, replacing water pipes behind the fixture, which is the protocol indicated by water quality experts.

Our Next steps: 

  1. Install water bottle filling stations with certified lead filters in all our AAPS school buildings and encourage students and staff to use these hydration stations as preferred locations to obtain drinking water. 
  2. Continue the flushing of all water systems following school breaks, such as summer, Thanksgiving, winter break, and spring break. 
  3. Conduct an inventory of all drinking water sources to ensure attention is paid to all fixtures across the district.
  4. With the Fall, 2018 water testing cycle, increase the number of locations tested in each school, particularly in all preschool, elementary, and K8 locations.
  5. Implement appropriate remediation activities for locations measuring >10ppb across the district. This step will place the AAPS ahead of the State of Michigan adjustment to >12ppb scheduled for 2025. 
  6. Additional attention will be given to fixtures that test between 5 and 10ppb that may include flushing and retesting and other steps to be determined.
  7. Education for students, staff, and parents: along with other communities with aged infrastructure around the country, we all face the possibility of consuming lead in our homes or anywhere we go. We've provided parents with educational materials from the CDC and the EPA with best practices for minimizing exposure to lead in many environments at A2-Schools-dot-org-slash-water testing
  8. Install signage in low priority locations, such as bathroom sinks, custodial closets, etc. to advise that water in these locations is not for consumption. 
  9. Add Testing for Lead Drinking Water Program Information as an Annual Report to the Board of Education (as was done in 2016), to ensure the Board and community publicly receive this information shared directly each year. 
  10. As we have done since spring, 2016, we will continue to Post Results of Lead Drinking Water Testing on the AAPS website.

In the Ann Arbor Public Schools, we are committed to the health and well being of all our children, and to the important work of preventing and addressing levels of lead in school drinking water. We look forward to maintaining our position as a leading school district on this very critical issue of student health and safety.

There is much more information regarding AAPS Lead in Drinking Water Program and links to other valuable resources at www.a2schools.org/watertesting.