Westport Central is taking action to remediate the eight sites found to contain high levels of lead following test results received on Oct. 13. Samples taken from Elizabethtown-Lewis Central are awaiting results.
WESTPORT — Westport Central is taking action to remediate lead contamination found in eight sinks.
Test results have revealed eight of the 77 outlets tested were found to contain lead levels higher than 15 parts per billion.
None of the positive tests were for drinking fountains, said Superintendent Scott Osborne.
The locations include one sink in the main floor girl’s restroom, a sink in the second-grade classroom, one in a home economics classroom and five sinks in a second-floor science lab.
New fixtures have been ordered for all units except for those in the second-floor science lab pending additional research to determine the parts needed, Osborne said.
A plumbing contractor will make the repairs as soon as possible, Osborne said. The Essex County Department of Public Health has also been notified.
The outlets remain safe to use for hand-washing, but students are told not to use them for drinking.
STATE MANDATED TESTING
The results come after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law last month requiring all state school districts to conduct the testing.
The state Department of Health must conduct separate tests by Oct. 31.
“These rigorous new protections for New York’s children include the toughest lead contamination testing standards in the nation, and provide clear guidance to schools on when and how they should test their water,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The legislation comes on the heels of lead contamination issues in Flint, MI and Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer County, where carcinogenic chemicals were discovered earlier this year in the village’s groundwater.
Previously, schools were not required to test their drinking water for lead or notify parents or government officials of the results.
ELCS RESULTS PENDING
Osborne, who also serves as superintendent at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central, said results are still 4 to 6 weeks out for that district.
“Realistically speaking, we’re going to have parts that are higher than 15 ppb,” Osborne said, citing the age of the building, which was constructed in 1952. “We’re definitely going to have something, and we’re going to work very quickly to fix it.”
The samples collected must be 250 ml and taken from a cold water outlet where the water has been motionless in the pipes for a minimum of 8 hours, but not more than 18.
The issues in Westport Central are relatively easy to mitigate, requiring the replacement of fixtures.
But remediation in other districts, including ELCS, could be costly if custodians cannot lock down the exact source of contamination, Osborne said.
“There’s a whole subset of procedures that custodians would go through before a deeper examination of the pipes,” Osborne said.
If the contamination if found to be a fountain, the district will provide an alternative water source.
Osborne said the state will reimburse the cost of the testing through existing aid formulas.
ELCS will test 110 sources at $15 per sample, not including labor.
“It’s not a budget breaker, but certainly getting our building aid ratio on that reimbursement would be wonderful,” Osborne said.
“We’re complying, we think it’s the right thing to do.”
According to the governor’s office, schools, which typically have intermittent water use patterns, are more likely to have elevated levels of lead due to prolonged water contact with plumbing materials.
Lead has been found to be harmful to young children and can result in lowered IQ, behavioral problems and brain damage.
Schools constructed after 1986 are not required to conduct the testing due to federal statutes requiring the use of “lead-free” plumbing infrastructure.
Districts will be required to collect samples every five years. The legislation also requires school districts to notify parents and local government officials.
To view the report, visit westportcs.org.