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New rule: Schools must now test for lead in drinking water

GRANITE COUNTY – A rule discussed in 2018 went into effect Jan. 7, requiring all schools to test for lead in their water systems. Montana joins two dozen states and the District of Columbia in requiring all schools to test drinking water for lead.

Drummond Schools has been testing its water already since its drinking water comes from a well. While they spot test faucets in various buildings, Superintendent Christina Barbachano indicated that her school will likely go to a protocol of testing all water outlets where people might be drinking water.

At Philipsburg Schools, Superintendent Kevin St. John indicated that he had just become aware of the new ruling.

“I heard something about the testing for lead,” said St. John in an email response to the Flint Creek Courier Friday night, “however I received nothing official regarding the requirement. When we do then we will have our water tested.”

The new ruling tasks schools to test drinking fountains and sinks used for food preparation for lead every three years, beginning at the end of 2021. If lead is found between five parts per billion and 15 parts per billion, the school must flush out the water fixture on a regular basis until it addresses the problem. That means running a faucet or drinking fountain before kids show up in the morning.

If lead is found over 15 parts per billion, the school must shut off that water fixture immediately.

In both cases, the state requires some form of remediation, like shutting off or replacing the drinking fountain or fixture.


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