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Drinking Water

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Kentucky's Lead in Drinking Water Reduction Program​

​The Kentucky Division of Water is coordinating a voluntary lead sampling program for schools and childcare facilities. A federal grant from EPA under the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) will fund the program. 
The program will offer schools and childcare facilities free lead testing and give educational and remedial guidance for reducing potential lead exposure in drinking water from those facilities.   ​

Why Participate?​

​Lead is a toxic metal that, even at low exposure levels, could lead to potential adverse health effects.  While lead typically isn’t found in sources of drinking water, it can enter drinking water from plumbing materials such as lead pipes in distribution systems, fixtures and faucets.  

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, there is no current requirement for schools and childcare facilities to be tested.   
Revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act will likely include requirements that require sampling in schools and childcare facilities. The earliest required sampling will likely be in October 2024.  

Children of a young age are most vulnerable to the risks posed by lead toxicity. Therefore,  EPA has developed guidance criteria for lead sampling in schools and childcare facilities known as the  3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities . 
The 3Ts program is the foundation of Kentucky’s program and focuses on the following core principles: 

  • ​​​Training – education on sources of lead and health effects of lead 

  • Testing – identify potential problems with lead through sampling  

  • Taking Action – implementing a plan to reduce lead  

  • Communication – establish partnerships and keeping the public informed 

Am I eligible?  

Any public school or licensed childcare facility in Kentucky that was built prior to 2014 can apply for participation in Kentucky’s Lead in Drinking Water Reduction Program.  Prioritization for the awards will be based upon the following factors: 

  • Disadvantaged, low-income communities 

  • Schools or childcare facilities with free or reduced lunch programs that serve 50 percent or more of children

  • Facilities built prior to 1986. (Safe Drinking Water Act amendments in 1986 prohibited the installation of lead pipe, solder or flux in public water systems and facilities.)

  • Elementary schools and childcare facilities with students aged six years or younger

How does sampling work? 

The Kentucky Division of Water and contracted partners will coordinate the sampling of drinking water outlets in school or childcare facilities. Outlets to be sampled include water fountains, fill stations, kitchen sinks and any other water outlet designated as a potential source of consumption. Samples will be collected by a water professional and sent to Kentucky’s Division of Environmental Program Support (DEPS) laboratory for analysis.   

Understanding the Results

Once samples have been analyzed, schools and childcare facilities will be notified of the results ​within two weeks. ​
Depending on results, the Kentucky Division of Water and its partners will work with schools and childcare facilities to provide remedial guidance and technical assistance for reducing lead levels in schools and childcare facilities. ​

​Frequently Asked Questions

  • ​​​Help ensure your students enjoy high-quality drinking water at school
  • Gain insights about the quality and safety of your school's drinking water
  • Receive results and recommendations for lowering lead levels in your facilities
  • Receive comprehensive education materials and guidance throughout the process
  • Contribute to baseline data to improve public health in Kentucky​

​In cases where lead levels are identified as actionable, the Kentucky Division of Water will provide recommendations for lead reduction. These measures may include removing or replacing fixtures, routinely flushing fixtures before use, cleaning or installing aerators or filters.​

This is solely a voluntary program, however, under the federal grant requirements schools and childcares that meet the following criteria will be prioritized:

  • ​The facility's drinking water had not been previously tested for lead
  • The facility was built before 1986
  • At least 50% of schools' student population receive free or reduced lunch
  • Student population includes children age 6 or under

​There is no state or federal law that currently requires lead monitoring in schools and childcare facilities.  Beginning October 2024, the Safe Drinking Water Act's Lead and Copper Rule Revisions will likely require public water systems to begin sampling for lead in schools and childcare facilities. However, at this time there is no requirement to do so.    ​

​Yes. Since this is a program to improve public health, it's important we share the information and the education with the school community. As a requirement of this program, schools are required to share their results with students, staff, parents, and community and will be made available on Division of Water's website.​

​Lead is a toxic metal that can have serious health risks, especially for children whose bodies only naturally eliminate about 32% of lead that enters their bodies (compared to 99% in adults). The damage caused by lead poisoning depends on the amount of lead in the body and how long the lead has been in the body. Lead exposure can cause damage to cells, organs, and nerves, and in serious cases can cause developmental problems, seizures or death.​

​Lead is not commonly found in drinking water as it leaves a water treatment facility. The risk for lead in drinking water primarily comes from pipes and plumbing. Lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials and fixtures that contain lead corrode. In most cases, the issue is not system-wide, but specific to a fixture, such as a drinking fountain or water faucet.​

​You will receive a summary of the results within two weeks of sample analysis. If there are any results of immediate concern, these will be promptly communicated to school officials. Reports and recommended actions will also be available at [website] as they become available.​

​Sampling won't impact the school day since our team collects them in the early morning, before staff and students arrive.​

​A water quality professional will coordinate with the school maintenance staff to collect water samples. Water should be sampled after the fixture has not been used for at least 8 hours, typically early morning before staff and students arrive. The water quality professional will deliver the samples to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection certified laboratory for analysis.​

​There is no safe level of lead. When testing for lead, it is important to set an Action Level Exceedance (ALE). The ALE is not a measure of health effects, but serves as a signal to the schools and childcare facilities to take steps for reducing the lead concentration in the water.​






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