Lead Testing of School Drinking Water

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New York State Laws and regulations require all public school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to test drinking water for lead contamination. They must also act when results from compliance sampling for lead exceed the actionable threshold. When results from compliance sampling/samples of any fixture exceed the lead action level (5 micrograms per liter), it must be immediately taken out of service until actions are taken to mitigate the lead levels. Schools must notify staff, parents, and guardians of students in writing when outlets exceed the action level indicating contamination. They also need to maintain remediation plans implemented and test results, including the full laboratory reports, on their website.

Plumbing materials may add lead to drinking water. The materials include pipes, new brass faucets, and fittings, as well as valves (including those advertised as lead-free). Water not consistently in use runs the risk of having higher lead levels if the plumbing contains lead. This is why it is important to identify and address elevated levels of lead in drinking water in schools as part of reducing a child’s overall exposure to lead in the environment.

Information for Families

You can find your school’s available lead test results on Health Data NY by searching the Lead Reporting Interactive Search.

Information for Schools

Revisions to Public Health Law (PHL) §1110, which governs school potable water testing and standards, went into effect December 22, 2022. The key revisions to the law which will require changes to Subpart 67-4 include:

  • The revised action level of lead in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), reduced from 15 ppb.
  • School buildings deemed “lead-free” are no longer exempt from testing requirements.
  • Should it be necessary to provide water to school occupants following an outlet being taken out of service due to an action level exceedance, it must be provided free of charge.
  • Copies of lead sampling results including laboratory reports and any lead remediation plans must be made available to the public and posted on the school’s website.
  • Compliance testing will occur on a triennial (every 3 years) schedule.

Guidance Manual: Lead Testing in School Drinking Water Program

This guidance manual provides information and templates to assist New York State schools to develop and implement plans to test for lead in school drinking water, as well as examples of best management practices that a school may choose to implement to minimize the potential for exposure to lead in school drinking water.


Testing and Remediation

Public schools and BOCES must test all water outlets that are used, or could potentially be used, for drinking or cooking by or for students. Watch this New York State Department of Health video that shows how to sample for lead in school drinking water. You may also refer to the Sampling Quick Reference Guide. Schools must use a laboratory that is approved to perform lead testing in potable water by the Department’s Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP).

Find a Certified Laboratory for Conducting Lead Testing in School Drinking Water.

Following any lead action level exceedance, the school must take remedial actions to mitigate the lead level at the exceeding outlet(s). These sample signs (en español) may be posted on outlets.

View the presentation provided to the schools for the 2023-2025 compliance period for testing, remediation, and reporting information.


  • Schools are required to report lead results to the public, their local health department, the New York State Department of Health and New York State Education Department.
  • To report test results and other required information to the the State Health Department and Education Department, schools must complete the School Lead in Drinking Water Reporting form using the Health Department's electronic reporting system called HERDS. To access the form in HERDS, schools must use the Health Commerce System (HCS). For assistance in gaining access to the HCS and HERDS review these instructions.
  • If you need additional assistance, email lead.in.school.drinking.water@health.ny.gov.

Additional Resource for Schools

Lead In School Drinking Water Status Report

The biennial status reports provide an overview of the program’s status, including a summary of test results, program implementation updates and actions taken.