Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers must sample for lead in water by May 31, 2023
About the program:
This site will help you understand any requirements, timelines, and the process for your child care center to participate in the Test and Fix Water for Kids program. This information is specific for child care centers. Information is also available for family child care homes or schools.
The Test and Fix Water for Kids program will help your child care center meet the testing requirements by providing free training, testing kits, help with testing, help with understanding results, help with fixing problems and reimbursement for associated costs. Although testing must take place by May 31, 2023, there are several steps in the process prior to testing. Please make sure that you are enrolled no later than April 15, 2023 in order to meet the testing deadline.
Why is testing for Lead important?
Testing is the only way to know whether your water contains lead. You cannot see, taste or smell lead in drinking water. While exposure to lead can come from many sources, old or corroded lead plumbing or old brass fixtures can contribute to elevated lead levels in drinking water. Lead is associated with negative health effects that are especially harmful to young children. Please visit our Lead and Health page for more information.
What happens if I have high results?
If drinking water test results show a lead result of 5 parts per billion (ppb) or higher (rounded to the nearest whole number), you must fix the problem to keep children from being exposed to elevated levels of lead in drinking water.
This program will pay for you to fix problems that cause lead in water in your child care center. This program is free.
We can work one-on-one with you on all of these steps. Please email email@example.com or call our technical assistance hotline at: 719-733-7468. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
All licensed child care centers that are not summer camps or resident camps are required to sample for lead in water used for drinking and cooking. The best way to do this is to participate in this program. To begin participating, fill out the Test and Fix Water for Kids child care center form. Testing must be completed by May 31, 2023. Please make sure that you are enrolled no later than April 15, 2023 in order to meet the testing deadline. Please complete this form as soon as possible so we can help you get started.
We are here to help with all of these steps. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our technical assistance hotline at: 719-733-7468. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- I need one-on-one assistance.
Please email email@example.com with your name, facility name and type, and Department of Education school ID (for preschools) or Child Care Provider License number (for child care centers). If this is an urgent matter, please call our technical assistance hotline at: (719)-733-7468.
- Are all child care centers required to test for lead through the Test and Fix Water for Kids program?
All licensed child care centers that are not summer camps or residential camps are required to sample for lead in water used for drinking and cooking. The Test and Fix Water for Kids Program was developed to guide you through the process and provide free testing and remediation reimbursement. To begin participating, fill out the Test and Fix Water for Kids child care center form.
- I administer a child care center with multiple licenses. Do I need to test all of them for lead?
In each child care building, you must test all water fixtures where water is used for drinking or preparing food for children. If your multiple licenses are co-located within a given building, sampling only needs to be performed once at each fixture in the building under the main license number. Please indicate your multiple licenses on the child care center form. If you administer one to four physical child care locations, please complete the form for each location. If you administer five or more child care locations, please email us so we can help you streamline the enrollment process.
- What happens if testing does not occur in my child care center(s)?
The department has a list of all child care programs in Colorado. If a child care program does not complete testing by the deadline of May 31, 2023, the program will be listed as noncompliant in a report to the Colorado Legislature..
- Is my child care center required to hire a contractor to complete the requirements of the Test and Fix Water for Kids program?
The process for selecting sampling locations and performing sampling is very easy and does not require hiring a contractor. In addition, the department has a dedicated technical assistance provider available to help child care centers with sampling plan development, sampling, interpretation of results, and next steps for remediation. This means free technical assistance is available for your child care center. If your child care center decides to contract with other firms, the associated costs will not be reimbursable under this program, and child care centers will have to incur those costs. Additionally, any outside contractor will be required to use the department’s sampling plan tools, guidance, and data formatting and online process for managing results..
- What child care centers are not required to participate in the program?
Resident camps and summer camps are not included in this program but may use the department guidance documents to develop their own lead testing program.
Private schools are not included in this program but may use the department guidance documents to develop their own lead testing program. However, licensed child care centers that operate within private school facilities are required to test for lead in water and are eligible for free testing. This should include all taps used for drinking or preparing food within all rooms licensed under the child care center.
Facilities classified as public water systems are highly encouraged to participate in this program but can choose to be exempted if they are in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule and report their lead results to the program. A facility that is classified as a public water system would have its own water source (well, spring, or water intake from a river, stream, or lake) and its own treatment plant onsite, and would not receive a water bill from another water provider. If this is the case, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find your public water identification number.
- What if I have already conducted lead sampling?
Prior lead testing for the purpose of evaluating fixtures for lead may meet this program’s requirements and be used to demonstrate compliance with the bill. The child care center form will help determine your sampling requirements.
- What if I get water testing for lead sampled at my child care center by my public water system?
The water testing at your building by the public water system is a different type of testing and will not tell you if lead levels are elevated at all the fixtures you use for drinking or cooking. It also does not provide any funding for fixing any internal building causes of lead in drinking water. Child care centers are required to test all locations within their buildings where the water is used for drinking or cooking under the house bill requirements. The program is free through the Test and Fix Water for Kids Program and provides repayment for costs associated with reducing lead levels.
The next step is to create a water sampling plan for your facility. The goal is to collect water samples from all plumbing fixtures used for drinking water or cooking. After you enroll, the department’s technical assistance contractor, Colorado Rural Water Association, will send you an email with a link to access our easy to use online sampling plan tool. The online sampling plan tool will guide you through identifying locations to sample within your facility (e.g., number of floors/regions), the sinks within your facility, any water filters, and verify address information. Here is a link to a sampling plan guidance document for child care centers.
If you need any help with the online tool or have questions on the guidance document, please contact 719-733-7468 or email@example.com.
After you complete the online sampling plan tool, a lead sampling kit with instructions, bottles, and a return mailing label will be sent to you at no cost.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Where should I sample for lead?
Our sampling plan tool will be provided to each school and child care center to help the sampling coordinator determine their sample locations and label them consistently. A walk-through of the facility will help determine the location of the service line (the water line to the building) and all water sources used for consumption. During sampling, the sampler must begin at the fixture located closest to the service line and work away and upward (if your facility has multiple floors). Please reference the training materials and sampling plan tool when you are ready to begin sampling. Our technical assistance team will be available to answer your questions at any point in the process.
Which sinks/faucets do I need to test?
Only water sources used for drinking or cooking by the school or child care facility should be tested. In general, consumption of water from bathroom sinks is not recommended and these taps should be designated as hand washing locations only. Sampling should be conducted only at faucets where there is a reasonable expectation that children will be drinking or at faucets where water is used for preparing food for children. Unless your facility actively encourages and expects children to fill water bottles or cups at a bathroom sink, these sinks do not need to be included for sampling.
How many samples will be collected at each facility?
All water sources that are reasonably used for drinking or cooking must be tested (for example, drinking fountains, kitchen faucets, etc.). Total samples can range from less than 10 to 80, depending on the size of the facility. The department has easy sampling instructions and guidance to help you determine where to sample.
What if some of my water sources (for example, fridge water dispenser) are already being filtered for lead. Do I still need to test these sources?
Yes, all drinking water sources need to be tested for lead. The sampling plan tool will ask for you to mark which drinking water sources are filtered.
How should we inform parents and other stakeholders that we intend to test our water for lead?
A downloadable letter template is available to inform parents/guardians and employees of planned sampling activities. It is also available to download in Spanish.
I tested my facility’s water for lead before 2018. Do I need to do it again?
Data collected before 2018 does not meet the requirements of the bill. You must re-sample. You may use your old sampling plans to retest all locations used for drinking and/or cooking in the sampling plan tool; however, the department recommends you take advantage of the free Test and Fix Water for Kids program to retest all your drinking water sources.
Our facility uses purchased bottled water. Do we need to test?
The intent of the bill is to test plumbed taps that could be used for drinking or cooking. There is no exemption for providers who use bottled water. If a tap tests high for lead, you may put up a sign stating that the tap should not be used for drinking or preparing food. All of the supplies, training and testing are free. Costs to replace faucets or to purchase filtration systems are reimbursable under this program. Please do not test the purchased bottled water under this program.
Sampling for lead is as simple as filling up bottles in the order of your sampling plan, and shipping the bottles back to the laboratory. You will receive a lead sampling test kit with instructions within three weeks after filling out the online sampling plan tool. The kit will include everything you need: 250 mL sampling bottles in a plastic bag, sample labels, laboratory chain of custody form, sampling instructions and a return shipping label. No additional equipment is required.
You must take samples of water sitting in the pipes overnight at each faucet. To do that, please choose a day and time to sample when the water anywhere in the facility has not been used for 8-18 hours. It should not be after a vacation or a time when the water has been sitting for longer than 18 hours. It should be on a day when normal child care activities happened the day before. Sampling on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday early in the morning before anyone uses the water is the best time to sample.
- Open the sampling kit box (do not use a knife because that may cut the bag inside).
- Remove the plastic bag containing the bottles, the bottle labels, the sampling instructions, the return shipping label, and the laboratory chain of custody form.
- Look at the chain of custody form. Does it list all your sampling locations?
- Look at your bottle labels. Is there a bottle label for each sampling location?
- Carefully remove the bottles from the plastic bag. Do not tear the bag. Do you have a bottle for each sampling location
- Put the plastic bag and the return shipping label in the box and save the box.
- Pick a day to sample. Confirm with the facility staff that no early morning activities are occurring that day.
- On the night before you plan to sample, put your bottles, labels, chain of custody form, and a pen or pencil somewhere where you can easily use them in the morning.
- On the morning you are taking samples, start with the sampling location that is FIRST on the chain of custody. Go to the first faucet. Open the sampling bottle and save the cap. WITHOUT turning on the water, hold the bottle under the faucet Make sure that the water faucet is set to COLD water and gently turn on the faucet and catch the water in the bottle. Turn off the water when the bottle is almost full. Put the cap on the bottle and close it tightly.
- Look at the chain of custody. On the line for that sample location, enter the date and time you collected the sample. Put the label on the sample bottle that matches that sample location.
- Go to the following sample location and repeat these steps.
- When you are done sampling, bring all your bottles and the chain of custody form back to one spot. Look at your chain of custody form. Did you fill in a date and a time for each sample collected? Are all your bottles labeled? Do you have a full water sample bottle for each location?
- Look at the chain of custody form. There is a place for you to sign the form. Sign the form and put the form in the box. THIS FORM MUST BE IN THE BOX FOR YOUR SAMPLES TO BE ANALYZED!
- Take the plastic bag out of the box. Place the full bottles in the plastic bag and pull the drawstring to close the bag. Put the bag of bottles in the box.
- Close the box with tape. Take the return shipping label and stick it on the box over the top of the other label.
- To return your water samples, you can do one of the following:
- Drop off your FedEx package at a FedEx location or a FedEx drop box. Click here to find the closest location to you.
- Call FedEx at 800-463-3339 to schedule a pickup at your location.
- Request assistance from our technical assistance provider at 719-733-7468 to help you schedule a FedEx pickup.Open the sampling kit box (do not use a knife because that may cut the bag inside).
The State of Colorado will analyze your samples for free. It may take up to two months to receive results. The Test and Fix Water for Kids website will post all lead results, and the department will send you an an email with your results. After you receive your results, our technical assistance provider will contact you to review the results and discuss next steps.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How long will it take to test my water?
The sampling process is designed to be simple. You can usually complete all initial first-draw samples within two hours depending on the size of your facility. Samples must be collected in the morning before any water has been used. The process typically takes less than 30 minutes for a small child care facility to complete and may take up to two hours for larger facilities with more than 30 faucets.
When should I sample for lead?
Our training and technical guidance will walk you through the details of lead sampling. You should take samples first thing in the morning following a normal day of operation. You will need to ensure the sample represents water that has been stagnant between 8-18 hours. This means all water in the building, not just the faucets where you are sampling should not be used before sampling. We recommend sampling on a day between Tuesday-Saturday within the hours of 5:30-7:30 a.m., before anyone has used water in the building, and avoid sampling after holidays and breaks. It is a good practice to let the people working in your facility know when you are planning to sample. If someone accidentally uses the water before sampling, plan to sample on another day.
What are the deadlines?
May 31, 2023, is the deadline to test your drinking water sources for lead.
Can we sample our water or do we have to have a “professional” collect samples?
You do not need a professional to sample your water for you. It is as easy as filling a plastic bottle with cold water under each faucet you use for drinking/cooking. Our online sampling plan tool will help you determine where to test and automatically create a sampling plan for you.
Where do I submit my water samples?
The state laboratory will provide sampling kits to participating entities at no cost. These sampling kits will include a prepaid FedEx label for returning the samples to the laboratory. To return your water samples, you can do one of the following:
Drop off your FedEx package at a FedEx location or a FedEx drop box. Click here to find the closest location to you.
Call FedEx at 800-463-3339 to schedule a pickup at your location.
Request assistance from our technical assistance provider at 719-733-7468 to help you schedule a FedEx pickup.
Do we need special equipment to collect the water sample?
No, if you choose to use the state laboratory for testing, the lab will ship a complete sampling kit to you at no cost.
How long does it take to get back lead results from water testing?
It can take up to two months to receive results from the state laboratory after receiving your samples.
Do I have to use the free sampling kits and lead analysis at the state laboratory?
No, if you do not you want to use the state laboratory services, you may use any lab certified in Colorado to analyze for lead in drinking water. If you do not use the state laboratory, you will have to coordinate bottle orders, shipments, and data reporting with the other lab, will have to pay for sampling upfront, and will have to submit receipts to the department for reimbursement of laboratory analysis costs.
After the lead results come back:
You will receive your lead results, an explanation of the lead testing results and the next steps for your facility, and information about blood lead testing in an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. You must give these results to your employees and parents/guardians within two business days of receiving the results. If you need information in Spanish or another language, please request it when you receive the results. The Test and Fix Water for Kids webpage will post a detailed list of test results.
If lead results are less than 5 parts per billion (ppb) (4.4 ppb and below):
If all your results are less than 5 parts per billion (ppb), you do not need to take further action after reporting the results to your employees and parents/guardians. This program is a one-time screening for all drinking water sources. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends you complete regular periodic lead testing, but this will not be covered under the current Test and Fix Water for Kids program. You can still take easy steps to further reduce lead (see our best practices to reduce lead exposure here).
If lead results are 5 ppb or above (4.5 ppb and above):
If any of your results are equal to or greater than 5 parts per billion (ppb), then you need to take steps to address lead at those sampling locations. First you need to immediately stop using the water at that sampling location for drinking or cooking. DO NOT boil your water to remove lead. Boiling water does not remove lead from water.
See Step 5 for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is done with my test results?
The department will provide all results publicly on the Test and Fix Water for Kids webpage within 30 days of receiving results. These results will be shared in a report back to legislators.
Do I need to notify the parents of the children in my child care center?
Yes, you must notify staff and parents/guardians of your results. A template letter summarizing results will be sent to you in an email for you to share with parents/guardians. It is required that you share the information in this letter with parents/guardians within two days of receiving the lead test results. In addition, the department will provide all results publicly on the Test and Fix Water for Kids webpage within 30 days of receiving results.
What can we do to reduce lead in water?
If lead is detected in concentrations less than 5 ppb, the EPA 3Ts lead testing guidance recommends the following steps to further reduce exposure to lead:
Periodic flushing (moving water through the pipes) after long periods of low or no usage (weekends and breaks). This can be accomplished by running taps furthest from the incoming water line until the cold water changes in temperature.
Use cold water only (especially when boiling water or preparing baby formula).
Regularly clean your faucet aerator or screen to remove lead particles that can build up.
Change filters in drinking water fountains and other locations according to manufacturer recommendations.
If I test and all samples are below 5 ppb, is that all I have to do? Will I have to test yearly?
The law is written as a one-time screening for all drinking water sources. Regular lead testing every 3-5 years is recommended in the EPA 3Ts lead testing guidance, but will not be covered under the current Test and Fix Water for Kids program.
What does ppb mean?
The units describing the lead concentrations in your water can vary across labs. To show how much lead is in water, it is described as the weight of lead in a certain volume of water. You can think of this as a grain of sand in a one-liter water bottle. That would be expressed as 1 milligram of sand in 1 liter of water, or 1 mg/L. This is also the same as saying there is 1 part of sand per 1 million parts of water, or 1 part per million (1 ppm). 1 mg/L equals 1 ppm.
Since lead is typically present in water at very low levels, the labs may provide data in smaller units. 1 microgram is equal to 1000 milligrams. If you had 1 grain of sand in 1000 liters (that would be 200 bathtubs of water), this would be expressed as 1 microgram per liter. Micrograms are abbreviated as ug. So 1 microgram per liter is written as 1 ug/L. This is also the same as saying there is one part of sand per 1 billion parts of water, or 1 ppb (ppb). 1 ug/L equals 1 ppb.
Typically your results will be in milligrams per liter (mg/L) (ppm) or micrograms per liter (µg/L) (ppb). The bill requires that child care facilities and schools must mitigate any drinking water source if lead is detected at or above 5 ppb, or 0.005 ppm.
How is a result of less than 5 ppb considered to be equal to 5 ppb?
The results from the state laboratory or any lab you use may come with more than one reported digit. For example, 0.0045 ppm, or 4.5 ppb. These decimal points are rounded to the closest whole number for determining if actions are needed. This means any result at 4.5 ppb or greater will be recognized as equal to or above 5 ppb.
An example of this is as follows:
4.5 ppb rounds to 5 ppb = action required
4.4 ppb rounds to 4 ppb = action not required
If the lead results from any drinking water or consumption taps are 5 parts per billion (ppb) or greater, then as soon as you receive your results you must:
- Stop using any taps for drinking or cooking that have tested for lead at or above 5 ppb. Use a different tap for drinking and cooking.
- Notify parents and staff of the lead sampling results and the fact that you have stopped using locations that tested at or above 5 ppb lead.
- Start working on a remediation plan for each fixture with lead results at or above 5 ppb. See action plan development and options below.
Action plan development:
Each faucet with a lead result above 5 ppb must have an action plan.
- The first step is to collect a secondary flush sample at these locations. Our technical assistance provider will arrange for additional sampling bottles to be sent to you and will provide you instructions on how to take secondary flush samples. A secondary flush sample is a sample that is collected after the faucet has been running for 30 seconds. The purpose of the secondary flush sample is to collect water in the pipes connected to the faucet so that you can know whether it is the faucet or the pipes that are causing the elevated lead levels.
- The next step is to develop an action plan outlining what you plan to do at each faucet with a lead result over 5 ppb. This plan must be submitted within 30 days of receiving lead results. You can use the decision chart here to plan actions for sinks. We will have decision charts for other types of fixtures in the near future.
- The department or our technical assistance provider will review the action plan before you do the work. The department is developing an action plan application. More information is to come.
Possible options to reduce lead include:
- Cleaning the faucet aerator/ screen if applicable and re-testing.
- Replacing the faucet if the initial first draw sample is at or above 5 ppb of lead and the flush sample is below 5 ppb of lead.
- Replacing the immediate plumbing (pipe/solder, valves) under the sink if the initial first draw and flush sample are both at or above 5 ppb of lead.
- Installing point-of-use filters if the faucet or plumbing replacements will not reduce lead results below 4.5 ppb.
- Removing the fixture if it is not needed and other acceptable drinking water sources are available nearby.
- Placing signage and educating students and staff that the location is for handwashing only.
Action plan acceptance and remediation actions:
The department or our technical assistance provider will notify you if your action plan has been accepted or if additional information is needed. After acceptance, you may proceed with your plan and submit receipts to the state so you can be repaid. See payment section below for more information.
Any actions, such as faucet replacement, must be completed within 90 days of receiving lead results. To confirm that the action is successful at lowering lead levels below 5 ppb, another lead water sample called a confirmation sample is required 90 days after the action is complete.
- Repayment requests will not be processed until the confirmation sample results are received.
- If the action is not successful at reducing lead below 5 ppb, a point-of-use filter will be recommended in the situation where fixture and immediate plumbing replacements do not resolve the lead issue.
- If the action includes filter replacement, then you must maintain records for at least five years to track filter replacement activities as required by the manufacturer's instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do we determine the source of lead?
Our sampling guidance outlines a two-step sampling plan as a best practice to determine potential lead sources. The initial first-draw sample represents water in contact with the fixture and upstream plumbing. A secondary flush sample represents water in contact with the interior plumbing. If lead is in the first-draw sample but not in the flush sample, the fixture is the likely source. If lead is in both samples, the source likely is upstream and in the fixture. Our training guidance and technical assistance team will help you determine the best remediation response. The Environmental Protection Agency's 3Ts guidance provides further information for reducing lead in drinking water.
Repayment costs and process:
The state will repay costs for fixing water taps used for drinking or cooking that have lead levels at or above 5 ppb and were tested after August 11, 2022.
The following costs will be repaid as part of this program:
- Lead analysis from a certified laboratory that is not the state laboratory.
- Permanent signage for designating taps not for drinking.
- Removal of fixtures.
- Fixture/ Faucet replacement.
- Replacement of plumbing (pipes, solder, valves in the vicinity of the fixture).
- Installation of filters and two years of filter replacement.
- Replacement filters: Up to two years of replacement filters for any filters that are installed under the Test and Fix Program or identified as not removing lead sufficiently during testing under the program.
- Drinking water fountain replacement.
- Bottle filling stations.
The following costs will NOT be repaid:
- Lead service line replacement.
- Actions or fixes at taps with less than 5 ppb of lead.
- Actions, fixes, or sampling costs prior to August 11, 2022, including actions or fixes that were based on sampling data collected prior to August 11, 2022.
- Actions, fixes, or sampling costs that were repaid under another grant program.
- Contractor labor to sample or develop sampling plans (already provided through the department’s technical assistance contractor).
The department is developing a repayment guidance and process. More information is to come.