• Lead in Water Initiative

    As part of the safety and security of the entire educational environment, Winchester Public Schools is always working to protect and nurture the physical well-being of its students and staff. This includes testing for the consumable water sources in our schools and administrative offices.    


    Background: Virginia General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 1359 effective July 1, 2017 requiring all school divisions in the state to implement a plan to conduct testing of all potable water sources within the schools for the presence of lead above the maximum threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb). The protocol used was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and titled 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools. 




    • Initial testing for lead and mitigation has been completed on all buildings built on or before 1986.
    • “Not for Drinking or Cooking” signs will remain at water sources with elevated > 10 ppb hits which are not intended for consumption
    • Faucets found to have measurements >10 ppb will be cleaned, scheduled for retesting, and then replaced if required.
    • WPS will continue to use the expertise of Winchester City Public Works and environmental services companies




    Winchester Public Schools began testing samples from drinking water sources within its schools during the 2017–2018 school year.


    In the summer of 2018, WPS worked in conjunction with ECS environmental services to apply its testing protocol to all potable water sources, to include those for drinking and food preparation, as well as sinks that dispense water generally not intended for human consumption. During that testing cycle, WPS focused on two schools. When results came back, 97% of drinking and food prep sites were below threshold. However, 7 drinking and food-prep sources in those two schools returned results with lead levels greater than 10 ppb, or what the industry refers to as “actionable levels.” Of those seven instances of >10 ppb, 6 were from sinks not designed for drinking, and were labeled as such. One water fountain was taken out of service. The schools affected during this testing cycle were: Garland Quarles Elementary School and John Handley High School.  The following summer of 2019, two more schools were tested in conjunction with ECS environmental services to apply its testing protocol to all potable water sources.  When results came back, 100% of drinking and food prep sites were below threshold. The schools affected during this testing cycle were: Virginia Avenue Charlotte Dehart Elementary and Frederick Douglass Elementary School. Sampling events were disrupted in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 by COVID-19 closures. And no additional schools were tested in the 2022-2023 school year. Sampling has resumed for 2023-2024 and includes Daniel Morgan Middle School and John Kerr Elementary School. 

    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 a 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 plans 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 regulations, Winchester Public Schools will initially test every water-producing fixture in each building, identify any issues and remediate as necessary. We will then test every potable water location every 5 years moving forward.


    It is important to note that all of Winchester Public Schools receive water from the City of Winchester and its water system. That water is tested annually and has always been found within acceptable limits for lead levels. WPS test for the contaminates to ensure our equipment such as fountains and faucets are not introducing additional lead to the water. 


    Testing Schedule:


    Fiscal Year

    Schools to be Tested


    Daniel Morgan Campus

    John Kerr Elementary

    Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elem


    Douglas School / Central Offices

    Shihadeh Innovation Center


    Frederick Douglass Elementary School


    John Handley High School

    Garland Quarles Elementary School


    Additional Resources: 

    3T's for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water

    Drinking Water Activities for Students and Teachers

    Drinking Water and Lead

    Drinking Water in Your Home (EPA)

    Lead in the Environment (CDC)


    Results from testing:

    WPS Lead Testing Results