Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) continues to strive to provide our students and staff with a high-quality learning environment and to this end has been conducting water quality testing in all of our facilities. The tests that are being carried out are part of a routine testing cycle to ensure the safety of students and staff. ACPS regularly carries out routine water quality testing in its facilities in compliance with state laws. Testing is carried out by contractors who follow all established protocols.
The Virginia legislature has approved new standards for lead levels that became effective July 1, 2020. The new law sets the maximum acceptable lead level at 10 parts per billion or 0.010 mg/L for school drinking sources. This is a change from the previously acceptable level of 0.015 mg/L. The actionable level for copper remains at 1.3 mg/L.
ACPS conducted water quality tests in 2016 and in the fall of 2019. At that time, Virginia followed the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation for elevated levels of lead in water that were higher than they are now. The EPA action level prior to July 1, 2020, for lead was 0.015 mg/L. The actionable level of copper in drinking water was and still is 1.3 mg/L.
Higher than normal levels of lead or copper in water can be caused by the deterioration of the pipes or from the faucet itself. Lead was sometimes used in metal alloys to make fixtures prior to 1987.
ACPS will continue to follow the same protocols using the new standards and when outlets are found to have higher levels than recommended, they will be immediately taken out of use. They will remain out of use until the issue has been fixed and the outlet is retested and cleared. Lines will then be flushed and aerated and/or parts or whole units will be replaced. It is anticipated these efforts will solve the issue for most outlets. Once this work has been completed, the water is retested and ACPS collects follow-up samples to ensure the outlet's water remains within safe limits in the future.
The process ACPS follows when elevated levels are detected is:
ACPS works closely with the Alexandria Health Department on health issues. Water testing will continue to be carried out throughout the school division and all reports made public on the ACPS website.
If you have concerns about whether your child has lead in their body, you should have them tested by their pediatrician or family doctor. If you do not have a pediatrician or family doctor, call Neighborhood Health at 703-535-5568 to make an appointment.