Water Quality Parent LetterAugust 23,2001
During the summer there have been many news stories about environmental issues in school buildings. We've begun an aggressive program to inspect all buildings to make sure they are safe and comfortable for students and staff, and we have found some problems. As we find problems we are making permanent, positive changes to our buildings.
As part of this inspection program, we began testing water in schools for copper and lead. Testing began in July, and we have results for about 40 of our 106 buildings. Results for the remainder of our buildings will be complete by the end of September.
The EPA recommends that copper levels be below 1.3 parts per million (ppm), and that lead levels be below 15 parts per billion (ppb). Results so far show that very few schools have any locations with high copper levels, but most schools have at least one location where lead levels are above 15 ppb. Where we are finding elevated levels for either copper or lead, we are replacing faucets and pipes, and are installing water filters. Once we have made the repairs we will retest all faucets in all schools.
While this process is under way, we will place drinking water dispensers in every school, whether or not that school has shown any elevated levels. We are taking this precaution because the initial round of tests used a sampling technique that did not test every faucet and not all schools have been tested.
It is important to note that the elevated copper and lead levels were from water that had been standing 8 -18 hours, which is the EPA testing protocol. These levels do not represent the normal drinking water conditions in our schools. Since 1988, custodians have been required to flush the water systems each morning before the start of school to bring in fresh water. Once a school's water system has been flushed, the amounts of copper and lead are usually much lower. However, it's time to make positive, permanent changes to our buildings so we are not relying on flushing alone.
The drinking water dispensers will remain in each school until repairs are made and every drinking faucet in that school is retested and below the EPA recommended action level for both copper and lead. We are also taking steps to ensure that all cafeteria water sources have copper and lead levels well below the EPA action levels by the start of school.
While copper doesn't cause anything more serious than a temporary stomachache, lead is a serious issue. In high enough quantities exposure to lead can lead to developmental problems. According to the EPA, lead in water is almost never the sole cause of these problems. However, lead exposure from all sources should be as low as possible, which is why the District is working hard to reduce the potential sources at school. We encourage you to look for and reduce potential sources of lead at home as well.
We will keep you updated on the progress of our water quality program. You also can get more information about lead in water and test results for your specific school
If you need help translating this letter, call 503 916-2000, Ext. 4568.
More water quality analysis
Press release regarding water quality
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