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Tests show safe drinking water in all Everett School District facilities

Retesting will be done on the fixtures with elevated lead readings. Photo courtesy of Everett School District.
Retesting was done on the fixtures with elevated lead readings. Photo courtesy of Everett School District.

August 13, 2016, update.

The Everett Herald reports recent testing now indicates all Everett School District drinking water faucets are safe to use.

According to the article, “Everett Public Schools has retested all seven of the water faucets that earlier showed high levels of lead. The results came back showing all were well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum allowable amount.”

Original July 1, 2016, article.

From an Everett School District News Release.

All 26 schools and support sites tested – 99.4 percent are below the EPA’s recommended action level.

The district began testing water at all 26 schools and support sites in May, 2016. The district worked with an outside contractor to collect 799 water samples from throughout the district.

“The 799 fixtures are believed to represent all working drinking fountains, plus kitchen sinks and staff lounge sinks. We also sampled some classroom sinks if the drinking fountain was not working,” said consultant Elisabeth Black, Certified Industrial Hygienist.

What we found and what we did:

First draw” samples from 794 fixtures, 99.4 percent, were below the maximum of 20 parts per billion (ppb) recommended for schools and child care facilities. Ninety-eight percent of the samples were under 15 ppb.

Samples gathered from seven water sources tested slightly higher than 20 ppb:

Classroom sink faucet at Lowell Elementary School (24.9 ppb) – the sample was taken from a blocked, unused classroom sink/faucet that may not have been used in years. That long-term disuse may have led to the slightly elevated lead in the first-draw sample. The water to this water source was immediately shut off and access to the water source restricted.

North Middle School

  • Two staff room faucets (26.1 ppb and 36.7 ppb) – these faucets were already fitted with filters as a result of previous testing done in 2013, but the first draw samples were collected from the two faucets WITHOUT their filters in place. The second draw test results will be with AND without filters in place – both ways will be tested.
  • Two drinking fountains (22.4 ppb and 23.1 ppb) – these sources were not previously fitted with filters. Their slightly elevated numbers may be due to disuse since surrounding fountains tested well below 20 ppb. Access to these water sources has been restricted.

Two drinking fountains inside the athletic building at Memorial Stadium (21.4 ppb and 23.8 ppb) – both from rarely used locations; one inside the men’s locker room and one inside the athletics building. The results for the drinking fountains at the athletic building were received June 30. Access to both sources was restricted.

Maintenance Director MaryHelen Pierce explained, “When we re-test, we do a ‘second draw’ test which allows the water to flow/flush before taking the sample. Most often that shows levels below 20 ppb. If it still comes out above 20 ppb, we will either replace the fixture (assuming it is the fixture and not the piping or solder on the piping or something else) and test again, or we can add a filter which we know will filter out whatever is the source. All work will be completed prior to the start of the school year.”

Results from the seven re-tests are expected in mid-July and the district will provide updates once those results are received.

Find more information about testing water for lead on the Washington State Department of Health website and on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

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