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Water testing leads to school improvements
Drinking Water Testing in Schools2.jpg
Pictured is a newly installed water fountain at the Central Office, which is what the district is replacing old water fountains with at several schools. - photo by Lacy Garrison

As required by state law and Warren County School Board policy, the testing of all drinking water sources has been conducted in all schools that were constructed prior to Jan. 1, 1998.

According to Director of Schools Bobby Cox, out of thousands of fixtures throughout the district, there are just a few that need replacing in some of the older buildings.

“I know how that can sound when you say we have traces of lead in the water. It’s not that it’s harmful, deadly or out of compliance, it’s just that those fixtures over time have built up lead in the fixture so we’re replacing them,” said Cox. “The water is good. The city water is good. It’s the same water that runs through your household.”

The schools listed below had results in various fixtures that showed lead levels above the required 20 parts per billion. All fixtures affected have been taken out of service and all fixtures will be replaced with new fixtures. These new fixtures will be retested 90 days after corrective action.

Schools and fixtures identified:

• West Elementary: one bubbler head, one sink

• WCMS: four water coolers

• WCHS: one sink

• Hickory Creek Elementary: two kitchen sinks, five classroom sink faucets, and a classroom sink faucet

• Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary Schools: four faucets 

School facilities constructed on or after Jan. 1, 1998 like Morrison and Centertown Elementary will be tested later in the year. 

“Now that we are in that cycle, we will do this annually and try to do it in the summertime unless there is a problem,” explained Cox. 

Here’s how the testing works. 

Samples consist of the first 250 mL of water that has been standing in plumbing overnight. If the results indicate that lead levels in a drinking water source exceed 15 parts per billion, but are below 20 parts per billion in any facility, lead level testing will be conducted at that location on an annual basis until retesting confirms that lead levels are under 15 parts per billion.

The installation of new fixtures is estimated to be completed before school starts back next month.