Safe Water Initiative

As part of the safety and security of the entire educational environment, Virginia Beach City Schools (VBCPS) is always working to protect and nurture the physical well-being of its students and staff. This includes a robust and proactive testing and flushing program for the consumable water sources in our schools and administrative offices.

Key points of the Safe Water Initiative

  • Initial testing for lead and mitigation has been completed on all buildings built on or before 1986.
  • VBCPS will test consumable water sources every five years at all facilities built before 2014.
  • “Not for Drinking or Cooking” signs will remain at water sources not intended for consumption in pre-2014 facilities.
  • A general, routine flushing plan is in place for all buildings, with individualized plans in development for each facility.
  • VBCPS will continue to use the expertise of Virginia Beach Public Utilities and AH Environmental Consultants.

The division proactively began testing samples from drinking water sources within its schools in 2016. The samples collected during that cycle met what were, at the time, state and federal lead-level limits of less than 15 parts per billion (ppb).

A year later, a state law was passed that required public schools to develop and execute a plan to test drinking water, prioritizing schools built in or before 1986.

Please click HERE for more historical information regarding testing in VBCPS schools.

Testing in 2019-2020
In the summer of 2019, VBCPS applied its testing protocol to all potable water sources, to include those for drinking and food preparation, as well as showers and sinks that dispense water generally not intended for human consumption. During that testing cycle, VBCPS focused on 33 schools constructed during or before 1986. When results came back, 96% of drinking and food prep sites were below threshold. However, 51 drinking and food-prep sources in 25 of those schools returned results with lead levels greater than 15 ppb, or what the industry refers to as “actionable levels.” Those water sources were taken offline or replaced and re-tested to confirm that levels were below the 15 ppb threshold. * Water sources not intended for drinking or food prep were clearly identified as “Not for drinking or cooking.” Testing of drinking and food-prep water sources in all pre-1986 schools and buildings was completed by the end of the 2019-20 school year.

New law in 2020
A new school lead testing bill (SB392 & HB797) became effective July 1, 2020. This legislation stipulates that:

  • “Each local school board shall develop and implement a plan to test and, if necessary, remediate potable water from sources identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as high priority for testing, including bubbler-style and cooler-style drinking fountains, cafeteria or kitchen taps, classroom combination sinks and drinking fountains, and sinks known to be or visibly used for consumption. Such plan shall be consistent with guidance published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Health. The local school board shall give priority in the testing plan to schools whose school building was constructed, in whole or in part, before 1986. Each local school board shall submit such testing plan and report the results of any such test to the Department of Health. Each local school board shall take all steps necessary to notify parents if testing results indicate lead contamination that exceeds 10 parts per billion.”

In response to the new regulation, the VBCPS water testing team revisited the 2019 results and found that all consumable water outlets were in full compliance at the time they were tested or remediated. However, due to the lowered notification level (>10ppb), VBCPS believes it is in the best interest of the division and the community to retest and remediate any consumable outlets that had results that fell between 10 and 15 ppb. This includes 70 outlets at 29 schools and one administration facility. Those buildings are: Alanton Elementary, Brandon Middle, Creeds Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, First Colonial High, Holland Elementary, Independence Middle , Indian Lakes Elementary, Kempsville Elementary, Kempsville Middle, Kings Grant Elementary, Kingston Elementary, Laskin Road Annex, Luxford Elementary, Lynnhaven Elementary, Malibu Elementary, North Landing Elementary, Pembroke Elementary, Pembroke Meadows Elementary, Point O'View Elementary, Princess Anne Elementary, Princess Anne Middle, Princess Anne High, Rosemont Elementary, Rosemont Forest Elementary, Shelton Park Elementary, Technical and Career Education Center, Thalia Elementary, Trantwood Elementary and White Oaks Elementary.

This testing will be completed during the 2020-21 school year. Families and staff will be notified when testing is scheduled to be conducted in their school.

Testing in 2020-2021
As part of the plan to test consumable water sources every five year at all facilities built before 2014, the following schools will be tested during the 2020-21 school year: Glenwood bus garage, Glenwood Elementary, Christopher Farms Elementary, Corporate Landing Elementary, Landstown Elementary, Ocean Lakes Elementary, Red Mill Elementary, Salem Elementary, Strawbridge Elementary, Tallwood Elementary. Families will be notified when testing is scheduled to be conducted in their school.

In addition, during the 2020-21 school year, the VBCPS water team will be revisiting elementary classroom gooseneck faucets the were originally classified as non-consumable and had “Handwashing Only” signs installed. These sinks often also have a bubbler with a “Drinking Water” sign, and this has caused confusion. Therefore, VBCPS will retest 48 gooseneck faucets at 17 schools where testing results returned >15 ppb. Once remediated and below the threshold of 10 ppb, the outlets will be available for consumption and the signs will be removed.

Those schools are: Creeds Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, Holland Elementary, Kempsville Elementary, Kings Grant Elementary, Kingston Elementary, Luxford Elementary, Lynnhaven Elementary, Pembroke Elementary, Pembroke Meadows Elementary, Point O'View Elementary, Princess Anne Elementary, Shelton Park Elementary, Thalia Elementary, Trantwood Elementary, White Oaks Elementary and Williams Elementary.

Families will be notified when testing is scheduled to be conducted in their school.

*It is important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency actionable level of 15 ppb of lead in water is markedly below levels that would pose a risk to children. This is an intentional action to ensure the safety of children. VBCPS has been advised by the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health and the University of Virginia’s Clinical Toxicology Program that, based upon reported water lead concentrations, the risk of elevated lead concentrations in children solely from school water consumption, is very low.