Environmental Health and Safety
Water Testing Program


Click here to read the September 20th Letter to the Communiton water quality (English and Spanish are available on this page).

Download the September 20th Letter to the Community in PDF format (ENGLISH PDF).

Download the September 20th Letter to the Community in PDF format (SPANISH PDF).

Click here to read the August 30th Letter to the Community on water quality.

Download the August 30th Letter to the Community in PDF format.

Click here to read the August 30th Media Release update on water quality testing.

Download the August 30th Media Release in PDF format.

Download the Water Quality and Testing Update 8/23/18 (English PDF).

Download the Water Quality and Testing Update 8/23/18 (Spanish PDF).

Water Testing Program

CMS launched a proactive water quality program to protect the health and safety of students and staff and to ensure learning and teaching in a safe environment in school, not in response to any specific condition or issue. Our goal is to test water quality in all schools.

Six states — Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Virginia — have required school districts to test for lead. North Carolina has not required the testing.

Parents are notified prior to testing at the schools. Parents will be notified should any conditions be found that experts advise may pose serious concerns related to the health or safety of students and staff. 

Testing in elementary schools was completed first. Where corrections have been made, they were related to specific fixtures, not the general water supply of any school.


Q: Why is CMS conducting lead in drinking water testing?
A: CMS is voluntarily conducting the water testing program to ensure safe drinking water within the schools to identify and correct consumption points that show lead and copper concentrations over the EPA (EPA) and State of North Carolina action levels. 

Current state and federal laws do not require schools, like CMS, that purchase water from a Public Water System to test for lead. The Safe Drinking Water Act’s Lead and Copper Rule requires Public Water Systems to sample for lead at single family dwellings. The most typical type of Public Water System is a municipally-owned drinking water utility, which must adhere to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina Drinking Water Standards (NC DWS) that regulate the quality of water delivered to the public. 

Q: What are the Action Levels for lead and copper?
A: The CMS water testing program uses action levels for drinking water by the State of North Carolina of 0.015 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1.3 mg/l or 1,300 ppb for copper, slightly more stringent than the action level from the EPA (the applicable action level for the CMS water testing program). It is important to note the action levels are not direct measures of health effects; they serve as signals of when to take steps to reduce the lead and/or copper concentrations in the water.

Q: What is the action level for lead in school drinking water?
A: The EPA recommends that action be taken at a specific outlet when the lead concentration is over 20 parts per billion (ppb). (Note: this is different from the 15 ppb action level required for public water systems).

Q: How can I learn more about lead testing?
A: Visit this website. EPA drinking water in schools  . There are several documents available that details how to test for lead in drinking water in schools. 

Q: Why are the lead action levels different for public water systems and schools?
A: The two lead action levels differ because of the different problems they seek to detect and the different monitoring protocols used in the two situations. The 20 ppb action level and sampling protocol for lead in schools is designed to pinpoint specific water fountains and outlets that require remediation (e.g., water cooler replacement). The 15 ppb action level and sampling protocol for public water systems is designed to identify system-wide problems and not problems in single outlets (56 FR 26460, 26479; June 7, 1991).

Q: How can lead get into the water supply?
A: The Public Water System, Charlotte Water, is the water supply to the majority of CMS schools. The potable water pumped to the water distribution system from the water treatment plants meets federal and state standards for lead. Where lead comes from is the pipe and plumbing fixtures that release metal into the water it comes in contact with, particularly those that contain lead such as lead solder, brass fittings and old fixtures. Lead sources and lead levels vary between buildings and individual fixtures, so it is important to identify and remove lead sources in each building.

Q: What about brass fittings?
A: A significant amount of plumbing has brass components, which may contain lead.  Until 2014, brass faucets and fittings sold in the United States and labeled ‘lead-free’ could still contain up to 8 percent lead.  Effective January 2014, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act specifies that these materials may not contain more than 0.25% lead.

Q: What is a consumption point?
A: A consumption point is a water testing location where the general public can obtain drinking water or use the water for food preparation. All working consumption points for a school were tested for lead and copper in the drinking water. Example consumption points include food preparation areas, ice makers, nurse’s stations, home economics classrooms, teacher lounges and drinking water fountains, coolers and bubblers.

Q: What schools are sampled as part of the program?
A: Schools with current or future use buildings constructed on or before 1989 have been identified by CMS as the most at risk. Until 1987, lead and copper containing pipe, solder, and fittings were widely used during construction in the United States. Schools built on or before 1989 were prioritized for this program.

Additionally, elementary schools were prioritized based on the age of the school population. Children under the age of six years old are the highest risk population for elevated blood lead levels, therefore schools with elementary programs, including pre-kindergarten, (PK-5, K-8 and K-12) were tested.

Q: What do I do if I have questions about the results?
A: You can contact your school or email at: EHS@cms.k12.nc.us

Q: The lead levels at our school are above 15 ppb (parts per billion). Should we be concerned?
A: Lead in water measured above 15 ppb does not necessarily mean people will have elevated blood lead levels in their bodies. The 15 ppb is considered an “action level.”  When levels of more than 15 ppb were found, CMS took immediate steps to reduce lead in the water by taking that consumption point out of service permanently, or replacing/repairing the consumption point. All consumption points that were repaired or replaced were retested to confirm the lead action level was met prior to allowing that consumption point to be brought back into service.  

In addition, the lead level is not a measure of the lead present in the water during continued use throughout the school day. This level was measured when water was sitting in the pipes or water fountain for a period of several hours without being used in order to get an idea of what the highest level of lead in the water is likely to be.

Q: What are the health concerns from lead exposure?
A: Young children are most at risk to lead exposure as they are still developing, have a tendency to put objects in their mouths. In children, lead poisoning can cause slowed development, reading and other learning problems, behavior problems, as well as brain, liver, and kidney damage. Pregnant women can also pass lead to their unborn babies. The only way to know if you or your child has been exposed to lead is to have your health care provider do a simple blood lead test, typically a simple finger stick procedure. Additional resources can be obtained from the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

Additional Resources:

For more information concerning this important topic please visit the links provided below.

Albemarle Road ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Alexander Graham MS Water Report Round 2.pdf
Allenbrook ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Ashley Park ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Bain ES (Old Campus) Drinking Water Report.pdf
Berryhill School Drinking Water Report.pdf
Beverly Woods ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Billingsville ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Bishop Spaugh Water Report Round 2.pdf
Briarwood ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Bruns Academy Drinking Water Report.pdf
Chantilly Montessori Drinking Water Report.pdf
Clear Creek ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Collinswood Language Academy Drinking Water Report.pdf
Cornelius ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Cotswold ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Devonshire ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Dilworth ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Dorothy J Vaughn Drinking Water Report.pdf
Eastover ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Elizabeth Traditional ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
First Ward Creative Arts Academy Drinking Water Report.pdf
Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences Water Report Round 2.pdf
Hickory Grove ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Hidden Valley ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Huntersville ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Huntingtowne Farms ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
Irwin Academic Center Drinking Water Report.pdf
JH Gunn ES Drinking Water Report.pdf
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Connect-5 Message
Good evening. This is a message from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. As part of our commitment to providing safe, healthy environments, the district will continue its voluntary water testing that began in the spring. We don’t expect to find significant water-quality issues but we are being proactive to ensure that the water in our pipes, faucets and water fountains is clean and safe. We will conduct water testing at 35 sites beginning Sept. 24 and ending Nov. 14. Your student’s school is among the 35 being tested next. Testing will not disrupt classes; it will be done when students are not in the building. To see when your student’s school is scheduled for testing, you can visit our Water Quality Program on the CMS website or contact your student’s school. This testing is proactive and voluntary to ensure student and staff safety. We look forward to sharing results with you as they become available. You will receive a letter with additional details on the CMS Water Quality Program. Thank you for choosing CMS for your student.
Buenas tardes. Este es un mensaje de las Escuelas de Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Como parte de nuestro compromiso de crear un ambiente seguro y saludable, el distrito continuará con sus pruebas voluntarias de agua que comenzaron en la primavera. No esperamos encontrar problemas significativos en la calidad del agua, pero estamos siendo proactivos para garantizar que el agua en nuestras tuberías, grifos y fuentes de agua sea limpia y segura.
Vamos a realizar las pruebas de agua en 35 sitios partir del 24 de septiembre y termina el 14 de noviembre. La escuela de su alumno se encuentra entre las 35 que se someterán a la próxima prueba. Las pruebas no interrumpirán las clases; se hará cuando los estudiantes no estén en el edificio. Para ver cuándo está programada la prueba de la escuela de su estudiante, puede visitar nuestro Programa de Calidad del agua en el sitio web de CMS o comunicarse con la escuela de su hijo. Esta prueba es proactiva y voluntaria para garantizar la seguridad de los estudiantes y el personal. Esperamos compartir los resultados con usted a medida que estén disponibles.