Lead testing of Alabama public school drinking water to resume

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 10:05 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s something we all take for granted; cleaning drinking water in Alabama. The 2015 water crisis in Flint, Michigan, served as a wake-up to make sure it stays that way within our public school districts.

When Alabama public schools resume in-person learning this fall, the water will flow once again, good clean water, something Aubrey White wants to maintain.

“Alabama is particularly blessed,” said White, who works for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, as a water division chief.

ADEM and the Alabama Department of Education will resume their partnership that started in 2017. The deal includes training school personnel to collect drinking water first thing in the morning. The samples are then sent to the state lab to make sure there is no meaningful amount of lead detected.

“In the advent of what happened in Flint, Michigan, there was a lot of interest in lead in drinking water throughout the country and especially with our most vulnerable population, which is children,” White said. “So, with that in mind, we set out and had a partnership with the department of education here in Alabama, and our goal was to sample all 1,500 public schools in the state.”

During the three year starting in 2017, ADEM tested water samples from more than 1,000 public schools. At least 500 schools are on tap to be tested starting this fall.

“Over half of the samples, there was no detection of lead at all,” White confirmed, “and 99.5% of the samples were below what we call “the action level” for lead in drinking water.”

White said part of the program requires schools to share the results with students and their families.

ADEM will also make its findings known on its website, as well.

ADEM received a $300,000 EPA grant to pay for the water tests this year.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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