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News Release: PGCPS Continues Testing to Ensure Safe Drinking Water in All Schools and Offices

September 21, 2017
For Immediate Release

Office of Communications

UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) continues testing drinking water sources to ensure the safety of students, staff, families and community members in schools and offices. Information on the PGCPS Water Quality Program was sent to staff and families today. Testing is expected to conclude by the end of January 2018.

“Prince George’s County Public Schools is exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency action level by using a more stringent water quality testing standard to ensure safe drinking water in our schools and offices,” said Dr. W. Wesley Watts Jr., Chief Operating Officer. “We will continue to address this issue aggressively.”

Earlier this year, PGCPS began comprehensive sampling and testing of drinking water sources in school buildings. These sources include water fountains and sinks in health rooms, teachers' lounges and kitchens. PGCPS takes action to remediate or turn off any water supply that tests for lead above 10 parts per billion (ppb), which is a stricter limit than the EPA action level of 15 ppb.

Non-potable water labels have been placed above valved-off drinking water sources that previously tested above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action levels andnon-drinking water sources, such as sinks in classrooms, bathrooms, custodial closets and work areas.

The final phase of the PGCPS Water Quality Program will allow for retesting of all drinking sources currently in use and the installation of filtered water fountains throughout the school system.

Since 2004, PGCPS has methodically addressed lead in water, with drinking sources as a priority. The final phase of this four-pronged work launched in April. Prior actions included several phases of remediation to address drinking water sources with elevated lead levels, as mandated by the EPA. These actions have included flushing the system; replacing pipes and fixtures; completely shutting off fixtures; and providing bottled water when drinking sources could not be cleared expeditiously.

The last system-wide testing for lead was completed in 2009-2010. There are no federal or state mandates for annual testing. Additional tests have been conducted since then as needed; the actions taken complied with EPA guidelines. Future plans include retesting schools every three years.