Testing shows lead concerns in water at Delta schools

'Slightly positive lead levels' in some fountains in district's older schools

Fountain water at Delta schools is being tested.

DELTA — The quality of fountain water at Delta schools is being tested following concerns of “slightly positive lead levels” in some taps.

A memo sent to parents today outlines a plan to evaluate water quality in the district’s schools.

“We recently tested water in three of our older schools in Delta and have received our first set of results this week,” reads a message from administrators posted at Deltasd.bc.ca.

“Each school showed slightly positive lead levels above the maximum acceptable level in ‘pre-flush’ pipe water (8 out of 15 samples were above the maximum acceptable level). Three of these positive tests were in drinking fountains.”

(“Flushing” refers to letting water in a tap or fountain run at least two minutes to “flush” out any standing water in the pipes.)

Following those initial tests, requested by the provincial health officer, another round of water-quality testing will be done in the Delta district’s older (pre-1989) facilities.

The memo doesn’t mention any specific schools.

In a memo to parents, the school district says it is “committed to the health and safety of all its students and staff.

“Our testing program is underway, with all results expected back from the laboratory by mid-May. Once results are in, the district will act on any concerns and communicate to schools and parents.

“In the interim, schools are undertaking preventative measures, which includes running water for a couple of minutes at all drinking fountains and classroom faucets each morning to mitigate any trace of any potential contaminants in the water.”

In recent “post-flush” testing, only one source (out of 15) was above the maximum acceptable level of lead, according to the district.

“This drinking fountain tested at 0.001 mg/L above the maximum acceptable level. All others showed significant decline in lead levels after flushing to well below maximum acceptable levels.”

According to its website, the district’s facilities department has put together an initial mitigation plan as of Wednesday (April 27) that includes:

• Removing from service the drinking fountain that tested above the maximum acceptable level post-flush.

• School-based administrators in all sites built before 1989 have received instructions to begin daily morning flushing of all pipes.

• Water testing will be performed in all sites built before 1989 on Sunday, May 1

• Future plans will be developed upon receipt of the test results from the laboratory.

• Communication with staff and parents will be made as new information becomes available or new protocols are developed.

In a separate “About Delta Water” memo posted on its website, the district says no lead pipes are used in its water system.

“Buildings built prior to 1989 have copper piping, and standard practice was to externally solder pipes with a compound that may have included lead. In 1989, the BC Plumbing Code restricted the use of lead components in solder in all new building water pipes.”

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

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