Water Testing Update
In recent months and in consultation with the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Health and Safety Services Department, the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District voluntarily administered a testing plan for school district facilities following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines.
The EPA Guidelines indicate any level of lead above 20 parts per billion is considered an "actionable" level for schools. This means that, if a value higher than 20 is detected, corrective actions are recommended. However, the level does not directly correlate to increased blood-lead levels in individuals.
For assured safety and in anticipation of New York State's pending more stringent regulations, Midlakes used a lower threshold action level of 15 parts per billion. After receiving the results, as EPA recommends, we performed a second and third phase of testing to determine our true corrective needs.
In consultation with a water-testing agency, the District voluntarily tested over 450 outlets throughout our facilities. Within these facilities, we have learned that no water fountains exceeded the threshold of 15 which has now been identified as the New York State actionable level. In total, we have 17 sites and 45 outlets in excess of the standard 15 parts per billion. A site constitutes a space (such as a classroom) and an outlet may be each sink within that classroom.
It is not unusual for fixtures in older buildings to have slightly elevated results, especially if the water has been sitting, without use, for quite some time. With that being said, our entire elementary complex and bus garage are lead-free facilities, with all outlets within the 15 parts per billion limit.
The large majority of our outlets which exceeded the acceptable limit, 38 out of the 45 outlets, were indeed in science lab areas at the secondary level where the use of the faucets is sporadic, many of which were classrooms on the second floor of the old middle school which sat idle for several years. All outlets which exceeded 15 parts per billion have been turned off and disabled until such a time that the issue can be remedied.
Water testing is checking for potability. Potable water is used for cooking or drinking. To be clear, using water which exceeded the lead levels to wash hands is said to be safe, according to the Center for Disease Control, because human skin does not absorb lead in water. Regardless, all outlets exceeding the limit has been shut down until a remedy can be executed.
The Phelps Water Authority provides Midlakes with our water supply. Water tests are performed regularly at the supply and are at acceptable levels to meet the federal safety regulations. The issue resides most often in plumbing materials, including those advertised as "lead-free" such as pipes, soldering material, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves. Therefore, the issue is limited to specific outlets.
The district's remedy plan includes replacing all faucets, plumbing, and in some cases installing automatic flushing systems on each outlet exceeding the regulatory limit followed by retesting in order to ensure the entire district meets the newly adopted safety regulations. Once outlets meet the new standards, they will return to full operation and be available for use. The full report is below. The following link will assist in learning more about the regulations: