Recent tests conducted in the University Place School District found lead in some water samples taken from six of the district’s eight schools, the school district said Thursday.
A message to parents from Deputy Superintendent Jeff Chamberlin said more than 90 percent of 225 water samples tested this month were clear of lead or had lead levels below the federal Environmental Protection Agency standard of 15 parts per billion (ppb).
That is the standard for public water systems. The threshold for school drinking water is 20 ppb, but some school districts have voluntarily moved to the 15 ppb standard.
A total of 13 fixtures in the University Place district had levels above the 15 ppb threshold in initial testing.
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Chamberlin’s message said the fixtures were at:
▪ Four locations at Chambers Primary School.
▪ Three at Sunset Primary School.
▪ Two at University Place Primary School.
▪ One at Narrows View Intermediate School.
▪ One at Curtis Junior High School.
▪ Two at Curtis Senior High School.
Levels at those locations ranged from 17 ppb to 224 ppb.
Chamberlin said in the message, which was posted on the district website, that “all water sources with elevated lead levels were shut off immediately and will not be used until they are repaired and re-tested.”
We plan to conduct additional testing based on these results so that appropriate measures can be taken to permanently fix problems and ensure that water at all locations is safe
University Place Deputy Superintendent Jeff Chamberlin
He said the first-round results came from “worst-case scenario” testing, completed after water sat in pipes for at least eight hours. Additional testing, which has been scheduled, will provide more information and help officials decide next steps.
Lead levels might be at their highest after water sits stagnant overnight, but might decrease after water is flushed from pipes at the start of the day.
“We plan to conduct additional testing based on these results so that appropriate measures can be taken to permanently fix problems and ensure that water at all locations is safe,” Chamberlin’s message stated.
He said the school district will continue to work closely with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to ensure follow-up testing is done correctly and that district responses to problems are prompt and appropriate.
He said the school district conducted water tests recently in response to regional and national concerns about the safety of school water.
In April, Tacoma Public Schools found evidence of testing — some that took place a year or more ago — that had revealed lead in school drinking water.
Tacoma school officials said they were unable to determine what actions had been taken as a result of the troubling results, so Superintendent Carla Santorno ordered new testing of every fixture at every school.
That testing is expected to be completed this month.
Last week, the school board fired the manager who had been in charge of Tacoma Public Schools water testing program.