Most California Schools Aren’t Testing Water for Lead

Media Contacts
Jason Pfeifle


In the wake of the Flint water crisis, more schools across the country have begun to test their water for lead. A new report from the State Water Resources Control Board shows that California schools are lagging behind in this effort to protect children’s health.

In response to growing concerns about lead in school drinking water, the State Water Board launched a new initiative in January to offer schools free lead tests for their drinking water. Last week, the State Water Board released data showing that less than 5% of schools signed up for the free tests. In 38 counties, not a single school has requested a test.

“The fact that most California schools aren’t even testing their water for lead is unacceptable,” said Jason Pfeifle CALPIRG Public Health Advocate. “Lead is highly toxic to kids. Parents deserve to know whether the water at their local school is safe for their kids to drink.”

This year there has been a string of documented cases of lead-laced water at California schools. Earlier this year, reports revealed elevated lead levels in drinking water at three San Ysidro elementary schools. Following those reports, San Marcos Unified School District found that one of its schools had a drinking fountain with lead-tainted water. A charter school in San Diego then found a similar problem with its water. Sacramento State also recently shut down 85 drinking fountains, bottle-filling stations, and sinks after tests exposed lead-contaminated drinking water.

New data from other states indicate that this problem could be even more pervasive at California schools. In Massachusetts, nearly half of the 40,000 tests conducted at schools last year showedsome level of lead in water from taps that kids could drink from during recess or lunch.

“Our kids deserve better,” said Jason Pfeifle CALPIRG Public Health Advocate. “It’s time for California to ensure that every single child has safe, lead-free water to drink at school.”