WIESBADEN, Germany -- Public works officials using the Army's newer stringent standards and procedures are testing water samples throughout garrisons in Europe.

Officials with the Directorate of Public Works, or DPW, recently enhanced methods of testing water samples for the presence of lead.

Water testing is ongoing and will be conducted at facilities at IMCOM-Europe military communities, which include Army family housing areas, child development centers, elementary schools and youth centers.

Housing staff will coordinate testing times with housing tenants at government-owned and government-leased housing areas. Each sampling event will take approximately 10 minutes per housing unit.

DPW staff will personally notify residents and immediately take corrective measures if they detect higher-than-normal levels of lead in your water.

WHY WE'RE TESTING THE WATER FOR LEAD

Water testing has always been conducted regularly at Army installations in accordance with federal, state and local standards. But new guidance -- developed by Army Environmental Command and the Army Public Health Center -- improves sampling processes and expands sampling across Army family housing for lead content.

In 2013, the Installation Management Command beefed up efforts to detect lead in water at high-risk facilities, defined as those providing drinking water to children under age six and pregnant mothers. High-risk facilities include child development centers, youth centers and schools.

In 2016 and 2017, protocols were further updated.

If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking action to reduce the lead.

Additionally, DPW now tests a collection of three samples. The first tests water immediately coming out of a faucet. The second is collected 30 seconds after the water has run. The third sample is collected tests two minutes after the water has run.

WHAT WE'RE DOING & WHAT YOU CAN DO

DPW regularly tests water for lead contaminates, and the German and on-post water sources that supply water to garrison facilities and on-post housing have all been tested and deemed safe and free of lead.

Processes are in place to detect lead in water and -- if detected -- immediately provide corrective measures.

Here are steps you can take to be a partner in your own health:

•Always flush your water faucet after extended periods of non-use, usually two minutes is sufficient.

•Use cold water from the tap for food preparation. Daily activities such as washing dishes or hands and showering with warm water is fine.

•More water safety tips are available from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead.

•If you have questions or concerns on the water-testing process, contact your garrison DPW. For wellbeing matters, contact your Army Health Clinic.