District Works to Improve Water Quality in Older Drinking Fountains

Drinking water throughout La Plata County may contain traces of lead due to older fixtures and pipes. In previous years, Durango School District 9-R participated voluntarily in CDPHE’s lead sampling program. These results were released to school families and staff in areas that were affected. Our facilities team worked diligently with CDPHE health officials and completed the recommended remediation work at our schools.

With the passing of HB22-1358 Test and Fix Water Results for Kids in June 2022, legislators made lead sampling more stringent and mandatory for all schools in the U.S. New testing is being done all at once this year as part of a one-time unique program to examine and replace some older plumbing fixtures in schools.

After the testing results are gathered, the district will share the data with individual school families and staff. Messaging has been sent via Infinite Campus email to some of our schools in the past year, and the remainder will be sent as results are released.

If the results of a test of a drinking water source show that water from the drinking water source contains lead in an amount of 5 parts per billion or more, the district will notify staff and families, discontinue use of the specific drinking water source, and take measures to address and remediate the drinking water source.  

To date, six of our facilities require some amount of remediation as a result of this testing. Each school in our district will receive a lead remediation plan required by this new law, and the work must be completed by Nov. 30, 2024. Some of the remediation work of repairing or replacing fixtures is currently underway. At other schools, this work will continue into the 2023/24 school year.

Signage provided by CDPHE will indicate which faucets at each school are for use for hand-washing only — not for drinking — until remediation work is completed. Some water sources may be dedicated to hand-washing only for continued future use.

Lead testing results are available for review on a CDPHE dashboard, which lists the district, school, and individual fixture that needs remediation, such as kitchen and classroom faucets.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used in a wide variety of products, including drinking water service lines and plumbing materials. Service lines are the pipes that bring water from the provider to your house. Lead service lines were common in the U.S. until the mid-1950s. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 intended to protect the quality of drinking water and ultimately banned the use of lead in pipes, solder and other plumbing materials in 1986. However, lead pipes installed previously, still exist. Lead in drinking water typically occurs because these lead-containing pipes and plumbing materials corrode over time. Minimizing lead exposure, particularly for children, is one of the department’s public health goals.