Elsewhere in the U.S., instances of high concentrations of lead in water have underscored the importance of monitoring and ensuring drinking water safety. You may be aware that school districts in NYS have begun testing all sources of potable water in school buildings and notifying parents/guardians of sinks and drinking fountains that exceed the 15 ppb (parts per billion) standard for lead set by state authorities. School districts in our area and across NYS are doing so to comply with state legislation signed into law on September 6.
Last spring, the Ken-Ton School District began testing samples of water in all school buildings. The District has followed up with a second round of water testing under the specific guidelines established by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Samples from all sinks and drinking fountains are taken early in the morning (“first draw”) and sent to a laboratory to be tested for traces of lead. This information is invaluable because it can identify parts or fixtures that need replacing and, through follow-up testing, pinpoint other sources of potential contaminants such as building or municipal pipes.
In accordance with the new regulations, if samples are found to be above the 15 ppb threshold, school districts are required to notify the NYSDOH and then to notify parents/guardians within 10 business days. The water outlet must be taken out of service unless it is used for washing hands or dishes, in which case it must include signage with writing and pictorial representations clearly indicating that it may not be used for drinking. (In the event a drinking fountain or kitchen sink is identified as testing above action level, the district will provide drinking water.) When follow-up remediation and testing find the outlet to be within the 15 ppb threshold, it can be returned to regular service. The Ken-Ton School District is in full compliance with these new regulations.
As of October 28, the District has received preliminary testing results for one school: Edison Elementary. It is anticipated that the rest of the results will come in within the next week. As the results are received, if at least 1 outlet in a building exceeds the 15 ppb threshold, letters will be mailed to parents/guardians with this information. Letters will include the number of drinking fountains, kitchen sinks, classroom sinks, bathroom sinks and custodial/maintenance sinks that were above the 15 ppb threshold. Principals will share the letter with the building staff so they too can be aware of this information.
Also, in accordance with guidance being provided for school districts by the NYSDOH, each of the outlets will be taken out of service. Those that are used for washing will have stickers affixed clearly indicating that they are not to be used for drinking by students or staff. New aerators will be installed, and retesting will be conducted. The length of time will depend upon the availability of parts and the installation/retesting process.
As soon as the reports are received, they will be posted to the Water Testing page located at www.ktufsd.org/watertesting and underneath Resources in the main navigation bar of the District website. The Water Testing page will have links to information about the legislation, NYSDOH resources, and a way to submit questions.