School District No. 6 has sent home a letter to parents of Lindsay Park Elementary and Selkirk Secondary students regarding water safety.
Recent required water testing for lead concentrations has found some old faucets at Lindsay Park and Selkirk have results that cause some concern.
“British Columbia School Districts are required to test water quality for lead concentrations once every three years,” the letter says. “Drinking fountains and taps used for cooking are the prioritized points of testing. To further ensure safe and healthy drinking water in schools, over the past number of years, we have installed drinking fountains in all our facilities that specifically remove lead from the drinking water. In the most recent round of water testing in SD6 we have expanded our testing. An important change to Health Canada recommended guidelines is that the MAC (Minimal Allowable Concentration) levels of lead have recently been reduced by half, from .01 mg/L to .005mg/L. Testing results this year confirm that the drinking water at drinking fountains all remains below the MAC levels. However, there are some old faucets at Lindsay Park Elementary and Selkirk Secondary with results above those levels in the water test results.”
SD6 Director of Operations, Steve Jackson, says that installation of new drinking fountains began in 2014,
“In all our schools drinking fountains have been upgraded to these new fountains,” Jackson said. “All schools have multiple fountains. The fountains are equipped with filters that remove lead and other contaminants. Our testing has confirmed that the filters are very effective in removing lead; testing indicates lead levels lower than .0002mg/l which is lower than the new Health Canada guideline of .005 mg/l. They are a great source of drinking water for our students and staff.
“Fixtures that were identified in this current round of testing that have lead levels above the Health Canada guideline are being replaced immediately in our schools. These fixtures will be mostly replaced by the end of this week. Most of the fixtures are already replaced.
“Our testing also indicates that if lead in water is found to be higher than the Health Canada guideline it is most likely to come from old plumbing fixtures (older than 1990) therefore out of an abundance of caution we have initiated the replacement of all old faucets throughout our School District, generally these old faucets are located in washrooms. This work is planned to be done by Christmas break.
“We are planning to test the water from all sources throughout our schools again at Christmas break and if any fixtures are found to have lead levels higher than the Health Canada guideline we will commence further mitigation such as pipe replacement where possible, flushing and/or filtering.
“Going forward, we will encourage students and staff to adopt a 10 second flushing practice when getting drinking water even in facilities where the results of our testing indicated lead levels below the Health Canada guideline. It is a prudent habit to ensure that stagnant water has been flushed from the fixture. Developing this habit of flushing prior to drinking is a practice that is recommended by health authorities.”
In the meantime, until the work is done, drinking water is only to come from the water fountains in the hallways of the schools. Signs will be posted at all faucets other than drinking fountains to remind everyone to drink only from the fountains.