• CMSD Water Testing Results

    Drinking water As previously communicated, CMSD turned off drinking-water sources in 69 buildings this summer to conduct voluntary testing for lead. The District has finished testing more than 1,700 drinking-water outlets, and only 9 percent were found to have elevated lead levels.

    Because even low levels of lead in blood can affect a young child's IQ, his ability to pay attention and his academic achievement, CMSD conducted these tests to ensure safety, after concerns about water contamination surfaced last year in Flint, Michigan and other cities. Protecting children from exposure to lead, especially those under the age of six whose brains are still developing, is critically important to learning and development.

    The District is taking immediate steps to remove or replace 79 drinking fountains and 40 faucets in common areas such as kitchens, nurses’ offices, and teachers’ lounges that showed elevated levels after two rounds of tests. Forty other fixtures that were not working during testing are also being replaced as an added precaution.

    Throughout the testing process, the Culligan water company installed water coolers in all buildings where drinking water sources were turned off.The company will continue to supply drinking water coolers in those buildings until the work is complete.

    In addition to replacing or removing drinking-water outlets, the District will also remove or replace other fixtures like restroom faucets or outdoor spigots, where elevated levels of lead were found.

    The tests, conducted by Cleveland-based GETCO environmental consultants, covered 65 buildings built before 2002. Four newer buildings were tested as a precaution, but none of the sources in those buildings showed elevated levels of lead.

    We will continue to work cooperatively with the City of Cleveland and MetroHealth to raise awareness about lead exposure.Thank you for your cooperation throughout the water testing process.


    To see our findings for a particular school or building select one from the following dropdown menus. To view a full set of reports just hit the Submit button.
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    Testing Resources for Families

Water Testing FAQs

How are you selecting buildings to be tested?

Every district building that was built before 2002 will be tested, including schools and administrative sites. As an added precaution, we are including four newer buildings to determine if expanded testing is warranted.

What will you do if any buildings are found to have elevated levels of lead?

Those faucets and fountains will be turned off and remain off until the problem is resolved. In the meantime, the district is prepared to provide bottled water in any area where elevated levels are being addressed.

What kind of water testing is being performed in our schools?

CMSD is using Standard EPA practices and approved methods identified in the EPA guide “Drinking Water Requirements for States and Public Water Systems: Testing Schools and Child Care Centers for Lead in the Drinking Water.” “First draw,” or “first flush,” testing is being pursued to check the lead levels in every water outlet of the schools.

What is ‘first draw’ testing?

“First draw,” or “first flush,” testing requires that water sources be left unused for at least 8 hours, or overnight, before testing. After this period of inactivity, the first 250 milliliters (ml) are collected in a plastic sample collection bottle, “fixed” with nitric acid, and transported to the laboratory for analysis.

Nitric acid fixes, or locks, the lead in its current elemental form in the water sample. This way, the lead cannot undergo a chemical reaction during transportation that would change the detectible lead content. This ensures accurate data reports.

“First draw” testing is the most aggressive test for lead levels in drinking water. It gives the lead level after a period of inactivity, which would be expected to reflect the highest level of lead to be found in that outlet as it has had over 8 hours to accumulate and become concentrated. .

How does lead get into water?

While lead is prohibited from being used in plumbing and water fixtures, it wasn’t until 1986 that the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) required lead-free materials to be used in new plumbing and in plumbing repairs. Still, solders and flux were allowed to have 0.2% lead content and other pipes, pipe fittings and fixtures were allowed to have up to 8% lead content. This means that water, which is an excellent solvent, can leach lead from old plumbing materials, or even newer ones.

How often are you required to test for lead?

There is no federal law requiring the sampling and testing of drinking water in schools connected to a public water system. However, given the situation in Flint, Mich., last year, CMSD chose to test water in our schools voluntarily.

What is the EPA’s action level for lead?

The EPA recommends an action level of either 15 parts per billion (ppb) or 20 ppb of lead.

Which action level are you using?

15 ppb. According to the EPA Safe Drinking Water Support team, the 15 ppb action level was designed to identify system-wide problems and not just problems in single outlets. CMSD has chosen the more conservative level of testing to meet high standards for drinking water safety and quality in our schools.