House Bill 1421 Reduces Allowable Lead in Drinking Water at Schools and Licensed Child Care Facilities
NHDES Launches the Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water Program
Concord, NH - Governor Sununu recently signed House Bill (HB) 1421, “Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Licensed Child Care Facilities,” which makes several changes to a 2018 law that requires New Hampshire schools and licensed child care facilities to test their drinking water for lead. Most significantly, HB1421 decreases the allowable level of lead from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 5 ppb.
Under the new law, schools and child care facilities must correct all locations where previous testing results showed lead levels at or above 5 ppb. Facilities have 90 days to review previous testing results and submit a remediation plan to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) for approval.
Also under the new law, facilities that have not previously tested their water for lead have 30 days to do so. The new law also changes the frequency of testing; three rounds of testing must be completed by June 30, 2024.
Testing is required whether a facility’s water comes from a private well or a town/city public water system, and all drinking water locations available to children for consumption must be tested (drinking water fountains, sinks used for food preparation, etc), since lead levels can vary from faucet to faucet.
To support schools and child care facilities in meeting these requirements, NHDES has launched the Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water Program. The program provides resources and technical support to schools and child care facilities testing for and correcting sources of lead in drinking water.
Support and resources for schools and child care facilities are ongoing. Since March 2022, Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water team members have contacted over 550 schools and child care facilities to collect outstanding sampling and remediation data, and to prepare facilities for the changes of HB 1421.
NHDES has also received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act that will cover testing costs for public schools and licensed child care facilities for an anticipated two rounds of testing. Within the next month, the Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water program team will be reaching out schools and child care facilities with information on how to properly collect water samples for lead and have samples analyzed for free.
NHDES is collaborating with other state agencies, including New Hampshire Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and an extensive network of stakeholders to increase the awareness about the impacts of lead exposure to children and encourage testing and remediation of lead in drinking water. The New Hampshire Deptartment of Education has a 50% reimbursement grant available to schools for addressing lead in drinking water. NHDES plans to use future WIIN funds for remediation at child care facilities in disadvantaged communities.
Lead rarely occurs naturally in New Hampshire’s drinking water sources, but the metal can enter drinking water due to the wearing away of piping, plumbing fixtures, or solder. Lead can be harmful to humans and animals, causing health problems from high blood pressure to nervous system disorders. Children under the age of 6, including unborn babies, are the most at risk because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults’ bodies.
Information about the program and all sampling results will be updated on a regular basis on the NHDES Lead in Drinking Water webpage at gettheleadoutnh.org. The program team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 506-6465. Press inquiries should contact James Martin at email@example.com or (603) 271-3710.