OCDSB Schools- Lead Test Results and Flushing Requirements

Trace amounts of lead in water can be harmful to children and adults. Provincial law requires water used for drinking or cooking to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of lead. Typically, lead can leach from older water mains, piping or water fixtures. While measures have been taken to update systems, a risk still exists.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board takes the health and safety of students and staff extremely seriously. In accordance with expanded testing requirements in 2017, all designated drinking locations in OCDSB elementary schools were tested in 2017 and 2018 and we anticipate that the expanded testing in secondary schools will be completed in 2020.

All of OCDSB schools are currently in compliance with provincial legislation and regulations.

Tests follow established guidelines in two steps. The first test is taken of standing water (unused for six hours). We then run the water fixture for five minutes (a procedure called “flushing”) and take another sample a half hour later. This is done as lead contamination in even minor levels can occur as water sits in pipes overnight.

If the exceedance is only in the standing sample, but the flushed sample is acceptable, then a daily flushing regimen is adopted.  

If both samples exceed the provincial standard, the water fixture is taken out of service to respond to the problem. This could include replacement of the fixture or, in some cases, moving further back through plumbing lines.

If fixtures are taken out of service, they are made inaccessible through signage, turned off and are only put back into use once we have been able to obtain satisfactory test results. We will not return a fixture to service until lead levels in drinking water are below provincial requirements.

Our testing results and actions to address issues found are shared with the Ontario government and Ottawa Public Health. They are also posted in the charts below. 
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