Water Safety

New York City water is safe. Families of students attending Department of Education (DOE) schools and staff of those schools should rest assured that our drinking water is of the highest quality in the world.

  • New York City’s water meets or exceeds all Federal and State standards.
  • The City’s water is tested over 600,000 times each year.
  • The DOE works with other City agencies to make sure our students have safe drinking water in schools.

New York City water is virtually lead-free when it is delivered from the City’s upstate reservoir system. However, the water can absorb lead from fixtures, faucets, and fittings. This is most likely to happen when water has not been run for several hours. You can minimize the potential for lead exposure by running your tap for 30 seconds, or until the water gets noticeably colder, before using the water for drinking or cooking.

The safety and well-being of students and staff is our highest priority.

Water Testing

State law requires us to test the water for lead every five years. In the 2016–2017 school year, the water in every NYC public school was tested for lead. The findings were as follows:

  • The vast majority of test results were not elevated.
  • Ninety-two percent of our fixtures system-wide tested below guidance.
  • If a drinking or cooking outlet tested above guidance, the outlet was immediately turned off and the equipment was replaced.
  • The affected outlets are kept out of service until follow-up testing shows those outlets no longer have elevations.
  • Every elevated fixture from this round of testing has been remediated.

All schools either have been, or will be, retested from fall of 2018 to the end of 2020.

Standard Response Protocol

If a building has even one water outlet that tests above the action level (which means it contains greater than 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead), the DOE implements its standard response protocol. This protocol involves: 

  • Removing any drinking or food prep outlet from service.
  • Flushing all or part of the water system to eliminate water sitting in pipes overnight.
  • Replacing drinking and food prep equipment.
  • Re-testing new equipment once it is installed.
  • Restoring service to drinking or food prep fixtures only after test results come back and show that the water is below 15 ppb.

Please read our complete Lead Testing and Remediation Protocol Memo to learn more about our testing and remediation process.

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Water Testing Results

2018 Cohort

One third of all schools were tested in this round, with the remainder of schools scheduled to be tested in 2019 and 2020.

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Remediation Summary 2017-2018

At the start of the 2018–2019 school year, we shared an update of the remediation progress from the 2016–2017 round of testing. At that time, less than one percent of all fixtures were pending remediation. Any cooking or drinking fixture still pending remediation was not in service and remained out of service until it tested below the action level, not greater than 15 ppb. Every elevated fixture from this round has been remediated.

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2017

Initial results from the 2016–2017 round of testing are below. All schools were tested in this round. Ninety-two percent of fixtures tested were below guidance. Any fixture elevated during this round of testing was remediated, and either testing below guidance (not greater than 15 ppb) or was removed from service.

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Information About Your School

Each time we do a new round of testing, a detailed letter about each school’s results is shared with school communities. Every school’s letter is available on the DOE website, along with full lab results. To access your school’s letter and lab results:

  1. Go to Find a School.
  2. Go to your school’s profile page.
  3. Click “Data and Reports”.
  4. Click on the "Facilities" heading.
  5. Click “Water Testing and Environmental Reports”.

Find Out More

Providing families with detailed and easily accessible information is key to our partnership with you. New York City offers helpful educational resources on how to prevent lead poisoning:

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