Drinking Water Sampling for Schools & Childcares in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is committed to working with our educational partners to keep lead out of drinking water at schools and childcare facilities in Philadelphia.


Lead can get into drinking water from plumbing or fixtures containing lead. None of the City’s water mains are lead, but older buildings may still have plumbing and fixtures made from lead. If lead is found in tap water, the source is somewhere in the property’s plumbing.

PWD treats our water to prevent lead from entering the water through customer plumbing. Because there is no safe level of exposure to lead, PWD is taking additional steps to offer testing to allow school and childcare facilities to assess lead levels in the drinking water and develop an action plan, as needed.

Our approach

PWD tests water from schools and childcare facilities in Philadelphia, free of charge. We want to work with your facility to reduce lead in drinking water. Testing at your facility is the first step.

PWD is conducting a pilot program for a limited number of facilities in spring 2024, and anticipate starting the full program in fall 2024. If you have been contacted about participation in the pilot program, we will work with your staff to develop a sampling plan and an action plan in case lead is found.

Testing & results

You’ll speak with our team first, and we’ll answer any questions you have. PWD will plan a visit to your facility, during which we will provide a sampling kit and train your staff to collect samples. We will then pick up the samples you’ve collected and test them for lead in our certified laboratory.

PWD will communicate and explain the results to you, and provide customized guidance and recommendations for your facility, based on your results.

Drinking water in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Water Department works around the clock to make sure that safe, high-quality drinking water is always on tap. Providing a safe and abundant supply of water is our commitment to all of our customers, both large and small.

Learn more about drinking water in Philadelphia →

Sources of lead in drinking water

Lead is a metal that is known to be toxic. It was used heavily by industry (smelting, paint, gasoline, plumbing, food cans) throughout the world, including Philadelphia. Environmental regulation of lead in the US only emerged in the 1960s.

Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures.

In Philadelphia, lead was never used for water mains, but some properties may have lead service lines connecting their plumbing to the mains. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures, and/or solder.

Learn more about lead in drinking water →

Health effects of lead

There is no safe level of exposure to lead. Taking action to reduce exposure can improve health outcomes, especially for children.

Learn more from the EPA →


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