By MARINA WATERS
The list of Washington County Schools with an excess amount of lead in the water supply has grown.
Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary told the Herald & Tribune that an overage of lead has been detected in the cafeterias at Daniel Boone High School, David Crockett High School, Fall Branch Elementary School, Jonesborough Middle School, South Central Elementary School and Lamar Elementary School. Boone had two water sources with an excess amount while the other schools had one each, totaling seven overages.
“The fixture at every source has been removed and capped off,” Flanary said. “The plan is to replace each fixture with modern devices that were manufactured without lead, then re-test. Only after re-testing is complete and the sites are certified ‘acceptable’ will the water be used again.”
According to state law, if a school drinking fountain contains over 15 parts per billion in its water, the school system must conduct lead level tests on an annual basis until a test confirms that the level is less than 15 parts per billion. The source must also be removed if over 20 parts per billion. Other drinking sources in the school are allowed to stay in use. The two sources at Boone contained 40.2 and 40.8 parts per billion. Meanwhile Crockett’s had 25.3, Fall Branch’s had 17.4, Jonesborough Middle School had 16.3, South Central had 15 and Lamar had 33.1.
“Washington County Schools has now tested every water source required by state law, and we did it in six months,” Flanary said. “The law allowed two years. As we start this school year, we can state for the record that every source of water available to children, be it a water fountain or in a school kitchen, has been independently tested and is within safe limits for contaminants.”
In April, an excess amount of lead was found in drinking fountains at Asbury Optional High School, Boones Creek Elementary School, Gray Elementary School, and West View Elementary School and have since been removed. (Testing at Grandview Elementary and Ridgeview Elementary was not required because the schools were built after 1998.)
“What we’ve done with the drinking fountains is simply remove them forever,” Flanary said. “There are plenty of other places at all our schools to obtain water, so we just capped off the water supply at the contaminated sites. Problem solved.”
Though the school system has replaced the contaminated sources, re-testing will have to be done to ensure the amounts are not above the state limit.
“All the sites that are required under the statute have been tested, but we have to go back and re-test seven of the sites after we replace the fixtures,” Flanary said. “Essentially, though, we’ve tested everything that has to be tested and we can say with certainty that students do not have access to contaminated water.”