Water Quality Reports

View Reports

Reports are located on their individual school pages.

Testing for Lead in Drinking Water

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has updated its schedule for testing all schools for the presence of lead in school drinking water. The testing program was initiated in 2018 to comply with a new state regulation requiring lead testing of drinking water outlets in all Maryland schools. An update to the regulation in 2021 redefined the lead action level from 20 parts per billion (ppb) to any amount greater than 5 ppb. As a result, any drinking water outlet tested before June 1, 2021 that exceeds the new action level will be turned off until it has been successfully remediated.

The state lead testing regulation, which is applicable to all Maryland schools, requires that all school water outlets used for consumption be tested, including drinking fountains, cafeteria kitchen sinks, etc. Signs are displayed on any non-drinking water outlets not subject to the water sampling, such as those in custodial sinks or science classrooms. The presence of a sign indicates only that a particular faucet has not been sampled; it does not indicate that a particular water supply is, or is suspected of, lead contamination.

HCPSS will continue to sample and analyze water from drinking water outlets at each school every three years. Initial sampling was conducted in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, during which each school’s drinking water outlets were sampled once. View the updated current testing schedule.

In addition to what is required by the state regulation, HCPSS is conducting sampling activities within its schools that use well water.

Details about the testing schedule, procedures and other information are provided in the Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information:

HCPSS Contact:

Christopher Madden, Indoor Environmental Quality Manager, in the HCPSS Office of the Environment

Lead in Drinking Water Test Results

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) recommends water outlets be taken out of service if the lead level exceeds 5 parts per billion (ppb). When a water outlet exceeds this level, the outlet is closed within 24 hours, and remedial actions are planned. Appropriate remedial actions can include evaluating the cause, and replacing the necessary fixture or plumbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which water outlets will be tested?

HCPSS will test water at all school fountains, ice machines, cafeteria sinks and any other outlets typically used to dispense drinking or cooking water.

Testing will not be conducted on faucets intended for hand washing, cleaning or other non-drinking purposes, such as those in utility rooms, restrooms, related arts classrooms (art, technology education, and music), or science classrooms. Skin does not readily absorb lead in water; therefore even if lead were present, handwashing does not represent a health risk even when hands have minor cuts or scrapes.

How will non-sampled outlets be identified?

All outlets not subject to sampling will display mandated signage issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that indicates the outlet is not to be used for consumption, but only for hand washing.

The sign simply indicates that a particular faucet has not been sampled, and does not indicate that a particular water supply is, or suspected of, lead contamination.

A red sign that reads: Do not use for drinking PLEASE NOTE: This outlet has not been tested for lead, but the water is provided by a public utility that is regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Click to enlarge

When will my child’s school be tested?

HCPSS will sample and analyze water from drinking water outlets at each school every three years. Initial sampling was conducted in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, during which each school’s drinking water outlets were sampled once. Testing will be conducted on a three-year rotation until further notice. View the updated testing schedule.

The regulation stipulates that sampling must occur during the regular school year, while school is in session. This is done so that the samples will be representative of conditions when the majority of staff/students are in the building.

What happens if lead is detected?

The law sets an action level of 5 parts per billion (ppb) for lead. If an outlet exceeds this level, the outlet must be closed and remedial actions initiated. Confirmatory sampling would be performed after remedial actions are completed.

How will I be notified if lead is detected at my child’s school?

Should any test indicate the presence of lead exceeding 5 ppb, HCPSS would promptly notify staff, the community, MDE, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and the local health department.

A second notification would be issued after all remedial actions are complete and have been confirmed through follow-up sampling.

Where can I find reports of the results of lead testing for my school?

All test results will be accessible on the school website within 30 days after the report is received.

How does lead enter the water supply?

The primary route of entry for lead to enter drinking water is through the plumbing system. Lead can leach into the drinking water from pipes, fittings and solder (used to connect copper pipes). To prevent this, water treatment plants add a corrosion inhibitor to the municipal water system. The inhibitor lines the interior of the pipes, protecting the pipes from leaching lead into the system. HCPSS receives water from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and Baltimore City. Both reportedly add corrosion inhibitors to their water supply.

Well Water Quality Reports

The following reports are generated for schools where water is provided by a well: Bushy Park, Dayton Oaks, Lisbon, Triadelphia Ridge and West Friendship elementary schools; Folly Quarter and Glenwood middle schools; and Glenelg High School. The language used in the reports is based on EPA’s Guidance document, Preparing Your Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report. The reports are designed to resemble the required annual consumer confidence report provided to consumers by their public water utility/provider informing them about their drinking water. Should you have questions or comments, please contact the Office of the Environment at 410-313-8874.

Lead Test Results for Well Water Schools

Per the Lead and Copper Rule, lead water samples were collected for well water schools.