Drinking Water in Schools: for Educators and School Professionals - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Drinking Water in Schools
for Educators and School Professionals

How the Minnesota Department of Health is involved:
  • Protecting drinking water quality in schools.
  • Educating teachers, parents, and students about drinking water.

Annual Drinking Water Poster Contest

Each year the Minnesota Department of Health works with H2O for Life and other partners on a poster contest revolving around a drinking-water theme in schools.

Funded by grants from the participating organizations, a bottle filling station is awarded to the school of the grand-prize winner.

The 2018 theme is Keep It Out . . . of Your Water Spout. Students can design a poster about what’s in our water and recommended local actions. You may find details for the 2018 contest on this link:

Poster Contest 2018

School Water Poster Contest 2017

Drinking Water Education

Educational Module for Students

Interactive Drinking Water Educational Module
An interactive module to learn about water.

Training for Educators

The Minnesota Department of Health works cooperatively with the Minnesota Section of American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Hamline University Center for Global Environmental Education in staging Drinking Water Institutes for Minnesota school teachers.

Teachers learn about drinking water, along with ways to develop the subject into inquiry-based curriculum, at these Institutes. They also have the opportunity to write curriculum to take back to their classrooms. The aim of these institutes is to produce high school graduates who are familiar with drinking water topics. See also:

For School Professionals Managing School Water

Resources for Meeting State Drinking Water Standards and Requirements

Drinking Water in Schools, Offices, Factories and Child Care (Nontransient)
Guidance for managing water in facilities that serve at least 25 of the same people over six months of the year.

Reducing Lead in School Drinking Water

In addition to its regulatory efforts to protect the water supplied by all of Minnesota’s public water systems, the Minnesota Department of Health has a program that focuses specifically on lead in school drinking water. This is currently a voluntary program, but participation by all of Minnesota’s schools is encouraged. The program provides guidance to school staff on the sources and health effects of lead in drinking water. Information is also supplied on how to test for lead in drinking water and how to reduce exposure. Additionally, school staff members are encouraged to distribute lead information to parents so that they may evaluate lead exposure in their own homes.

NOTE: In 2017, legislation was passed requiring school districts and charter schools to test for the presence of lead in water. For guidance, please reference Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.335 Lead in School Drinking Water.
This statute is in addition to any other authorized testing requirements for public school districts and charter schools. It requires schools to adopt a plan to accurately and efficiently test for lead in public school buildings serving students from prekindergarten through grade 12. This plan shall be based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and/or the model plan developed by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department Education (MDE).
By July 1, 2018 school districts and charter schools must:

  • Adopt the commissioners’ model plan or develop and adopt an alternative plan.
  • Include a testing schedule for all buildings serving prekindergarten students and students in kindergarten through grade 12.  Each drinking water tap or water source used in cooking must be tested at minimum once every five years. Testing must begin by July 1, 2018, and complete testing of all buildings that serve students must be within five years.
  • Make the test results available to the public to review and notify the parents of the availability of the information.

NOTE: The current guidelines for sampling are being revised to reflect the new legislation and are expected to be ready in early 2018. In the meantime, schools should continue to use the existing guidelines included below :

Reducing Lead in Drinking Water: A Manual for Minnesota Schools (PDF)

  • The manual is intended for use by all public and private schools in Minnesota.
  • School administrators should review and implement lead exposure education strategies.
  • The manual is designed to assist Minnesota's schools in minimizing student and staff lead exposure.
  • Instructions regarding testing and corrective actions are intended for school health, safety, and maintenance personnel in addition to any consultants working with educational agencies.

Lead Legislation 2017 (PDF)

  • Frequently asked questions about the new legislation and its effect on schools.

Reducing Children’s Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water (PDF)

  • Information on why children are more vulnerable to lead than adults
  • Sources of children's exposure to lead

Other Minnesota State Agency Resources

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Updated Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 03:04PM