Lead in School and Child Care Drinking Water

In Vermont, lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilites falls under several regulations. A school or child care facility that has its own well and water treatment and is a public water system is regulated under the Lead and Copper Rule. A school that gets water from a community water system is not sampled as part of the community water system's LCR compliance testing, which prioritizes residences. Vermont Act 66 of 2019 requires lead testing and remediation for all schools and child care facilities whether they have their own water systems or receive water from a community water system. This requirement is primarily under the authority of the Vermont Department of Health (VDH), with support from the Agency of Education, Department of Children and Families Child Care Licensing, and DEC. DEC staff oversee the remediation options when lead results are above the Vermont school lead action level. DEC sent an email to Vermont NTNC schools and child care facilities summarizing requirements under the two programs (federal LCR and Vermont Act 66) in July 2019.

Schools Sampling Update from the Vermont Department of Health (March 2021)

Beginning in September 2019, schools were assigned a week to conduct their testing and all schools must now sample prior to December 31, 2021. Due to COVID-19 response, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) paused all school sampling in March 2020. Initial sampling for lead in drinking water for schools has officially resumed as of March 2021. Sampling for schools will continue through the 2021-2022 academic year. Schools will be added to the sampling schedule once they are rescheduled.

Please see the following link for the updated schedule: School Lead Testing Schedule

Legislative Update from the Vermont Department of Health (Passed in September 2020)

The rule includes requirements for taking samples of water for all taps used for consumption and food preparation in schools and childcare programs. The rule also includes sampling methodology, the frequency and scope of continued sampling, and requirements for implementation of lead mitigation plans.

While there were funds allocated to this program including the cost of laboratory testing and remediation for the first (current) round of testing, it is unclear at this point who will bear the costs of future rounds. The cost to schools and childcare programs will vary widely, depending on the number of taps to be tested and the cost of remediation associated with these taps.

Please see the following link for the full rule: Rule Governing Testing and Remediation of Lead in the Drinking Water of Schools and Child Care Facilities (20P-003)

Background Information

The Health Department, Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Education led a joint project from November 2017 to March 2018 to gather information about lead levels in Vermont schools. This project provided a small number of schools with the opportunity to receive one-on-one assistance and save money during the testing process. The Health Department offered testing supplies, analysis and follow-up testing free of charge to participating schools. If lead was found in drinking water, state agencies and drinking water experts worked with schools to find the best possible solution to lower lead levels.

Please see the following link for the full report:

Vermont Lead in School Drinking Water Testing Pilot Report

Passed on June 17, 2019, Act 66 (S.40) of 2019 mandates all school districts, supervisory unions, independent schools, and childcare providers in Vermont to: (1) test drinking water in their buildings and childcare facilities for lead contamination; and (2) develop and implement an appropriate response or lead remediation plan when sampling indicates unsafe lead levels in drinking water at a school or childcare facility.

Please see the following link for the full rule: No. 66. An act relating to testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and childcare facilities

COVID-19 Guidance

With nearly six months of dormant conditions in most Vermont schools, the Vermont Agency of Education, the Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation developed the following guidance for school building owners and facilities managers to maintain and restore drinking water quality within schools upon reopening for the 2020 – 2021 school year.

COVID-19 Guidance for Reopening Schools

Guidance for placing fixtures back into service post-COVID-19:

Please flush all fixtures that were temporarily taken out of service due to COVID-19 for at least 10 minutes per day for at least one week.

Here are some basic recommendations for flushing based on time fixture(s) have been out of service:

  • For fixtures that have been out of service for 0-3 months, please flush fixtures for at least 10 minutes daily, for at least one week.
  • For fixtures that have been out of service for 3-6 months, please flush fixtures for at least 10 minutes daily, for at least two weeks.
  • For fixtures that have been out of service for 6-9 months, please flush fixtures for at least 10 minutes daily, for at least three weeks.
  • For fixtures that have been out of service for longer than 9 months, please reach out to DEC contacts listed at the bottom of this page .

Remediation Options

Please reach out to DEC contacts listed at the bottom of this page with any questions or concerns related to the ANR Online Platform and the following Required and Voluntary Remediation Forms.

Please also see the following video tutorial on how to complete the forms.

Please reach out to DEC contacts listed at the bottom of this page  with any questions or concerns related to the following remediation options listed on the Required and Voluntary Remediation Forms.

  • Removal from service – no replacement
    • Example: If fixture is no longer used and has been designated as obsolete by the school, consider removing the fixture entirely with no planned replacement.
  • Removal from service – new fixture installation in other location
    • Example: Removal of all drinking water fountains in a hallway and replacing with one centrally located bottle filler station.
  • Fixture replacement
  • Internal plumbing replacement or bypass
    • If post-remediation follow-up results continue to test at or above the action level, consider replacing some or all internal plumbing components.

Please only select the following remediation options upon consulting DEC contacts listed at the bottom of this page .

Please only select the following options with written approval from DEC contacts listed at the bottom of this page.

  • Fixture is not used for drinking or cooking
  • DEC Sanctioned Resampling

Resources

Act 66 Resources:

Lead Testing of Drinking Water of Schools & Child Cares 2019-21
Lead in School and Child Care Drinking Water: Required Remediation Form
Lead in School and Child Care Drinking Water: Voluntary Remediation Form
Lead in School and Child Care Drinking Water Results

COVID-19 Resources:

Information on Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings During Extended Periods of Low or No Use
Water Flushing Guide for School Building Owners and Facilities Managers

EPA 3Ts Resources:

3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit
Ensuring Drinking Water Quality in Schools During or After Extended Closures
Ensuring Drinking Water Quality in Child Care Facilities During or After Extended Closures

Contact Information

Questions related to completing tap inventories, responding to elevated results, remediation assistance, completing ANR Online Remediation Forms, in addition to general programmatic information:

Kelsey Colbert, Compliance Analyst, Public Drinking Water Program
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
kelsey.colbert@vermont.gov
802-461-5071

Questions related to scheduling of schools and childcares facilities for sampling:

Roxanne Karimi
Public Health Analyst
Vermont Department of Health
ahs.leadschool@vermont.gov
802-951-0106

Last updated 4/14/2022

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