Lead testing at San Diego schools to be completed by June

SAN DIEGO — Testing for lead in water systems in the San Diego Unified School District has been completed at 86 campuses, according to a report presented Tuesday evening to the Board of Education.

All campus testing is expected to be completed by mid-June.

The testing program began April 4, a couple of months after elevated levels of lead, copper and bacteria were discovered at three campuses in the San Ysidro School District.

Testing that took place at Emerson-Bandini Elementary School in Southcrest in January turned out to contain a variety of contaminants, including lead, according to SDUSD Chief Operations Officer Drew Rowlands.

“Five campuses are tested daily, Tuesday through Saturday, a maximum of five samples per school site,” Rowlands said.

“The protocol or the sampling requires that the testing is done first thing in the morning so the water has sat in the pipe in the line overnight.”

Testing results that have returned from subsequent campuses have all been under the 15 parts per billion that is allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“When we learned that we had the ability to do this, to test the water in all the schools and that the state had established a deadline of 2019, we all felt why do we need to wait,” Trustee Kevin Beiser said. “Let’s try to test every school as fast as we can.”

The program started in the southeastern portion of the district — home to some of the oldest campuses — and has been working north and west. According to a San Diego city official, charter schools on public property will be tested, but those on private property will not under the program.

According to the district, the State Water Resources Control Board in December required local water providers to test for lead at kindergarten through 12th grade schools.

Information on the program is available here.