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DRINKING WATER SAFETY IN SCHOOLS

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) wants all students, staff and parents to know that drinking water in our schools is safe. We test drinking water fixtures for levels of lead on a regular basis, according to provincial regulations.

In 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has made changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is important for everyone to understand what these changes mean regarding safe drinking water in our schools. Here are some key points of information:

The changes require school boards to only test water at drinking water locations, e.g. fountains and food preparation areas. At other water locations designated as hand washing only (e.g. washrooms and classrooms), the TDSB has posted signage to visually indicate that these fixtures won’t be tested for lead and therefore, are not considered 'drinking water sources' for student consumption.

Many of the water sources now designated as hand washing only are located in classrooms. Some older classrooms may have five or more taps/sinks that are no longer designated as drinking water taps. In order to meet the new guidelines, the TDSB is installing more drinking water sources in schools to ensure that there is adequate and easy access to drinking water outlets on each floor. Testing for safe drinking water is also increasing.

Here is more information to help you understand the steps we have taken to ensure that water in our schools is safe to drink:

  1. Is the water in TDSB schools safe to drink?
    Yes, drinking water in our schools is safe to drink. We follow Ontario Ministry regulations by testing our drinking water fixtures for levels of lead and flushing our plumbing on a regular basis, according to provincial regulations.

    On July 1, 2017, the Ministry introduced a change to the regulation regarding the testing of drinking water locations in schools ( Ontario Regulation 243/07, Schools, Private Schools and Child Care Centres under the Safe Drinking Water Act) that impacts school boards across Ontario.

    The change in the regulation requires school boards to continue testing drinking water locations in schools to ensure that water is safe to consume.

    At other water locations designated as hand washing only, the TDSB has posted signage to visually indicate that these fixtures won’t be tested for lead and therefore, are not considered 'drinking water sources' for student consumption.

     
  2. How has the new Ministry regulation changed the way the TDSB tests water quality?
    Under previous provincial legislation, the TDSB tested nearly 600 fixtures each year. Under the revised regulation (Ontario Reg. 243/07), approximately 24,000 fixtures would have needed to be tested. As a result, boards identified which fixtures were for drinking water or food preparation and which were not. The TDSB, similar to other school boards, decided that, for testing purposes, most classroom taps would not be designated as drinking water sources for student consumption. It's important to note that all students have access to a nearby safe drinking water source. In cases where additional drinking water sources are required, we are already in the process of adding drinking fountains and/or bottle filling stations.

     
  3. Why are the “Handwashing only” signs displayed on some fixtures?
    The “Handwashing only” signs are a visual indicator that these fixtures won’t be tested for lead and therefore, are not considered 'drinking water sources' for student consumption. Instead, they are to be used for hand washing and other classroom purposes only.

    Handwashing_sign

     
  4. What happens if there is a lead exceedance?
    Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change monitor any exceedances at the TDSB to ensure we fulfill all safety requirements.

    When testing water for lead, two samples are taken: one is a “standing” sample, which is taken directly from the tap without having run it first. The other is a “flushed” sample that is taken after running the tap and letting it sit for a period of time.

    If there is an exceedance in the standing water sample, daily flushing will be recommended for that fixture.

    If there is an exceedance in the flushed sample, the fixture is taken ‘out of service’ to eliminate any further risk to occupants of the building. Re-sampling or replacement of the fixture is done in accordance with the standards set out by Ontario Reg. 243/07. The TDSB will ensure safe drinking water is available within the school while these individual fixture exceedances are being investigated or addressed.

     
  5. Where can I find the water testing results for my child’s school?
    All lead sampling results for a school are kept in the ‘Flushing and Sampling for Lead in Drinking Water Systems’ binder in the head caretaker’s office. It provides information on all designated drinking water sources in the school. Parents can request to review this binder on site at any time.


  6. Does the TDSB’s backlog limit the Board’s ability to test water in schools?
    The TDSB’s backlog is $4.05 billion and is expected to grow. The TDSB has been advocating for additional provincial funding and access to Education Development Charges to improve the condition of our schools. However, despite our backlog, our water sources are safe. Drinking water sources in our schools are tested for lead on a regular basis and our plumbing is  regularly flushed, in accordance with provincial regulations.  

   

 

Useful links

Ontario Regulation 243/07, Schools, Private Schools and Child Care Centres

Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002

 

Our Mission
To enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and well-being
and to acquire the knowledge, skills
and values they need to become responsible, contributing members of
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