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Elevated lead levels found in water fixtures at 5 North Thurston schools

Crews work on the new and expand administration area during the modernization project at Evergreen Forest Elementary School in Lacey in November. Evergreen Forest is one of five schools in the North Thurston school district where elevated lead levels were found in water fixtures, the district announced Thursday night.
Crews work on the new and expand administration area during the modernization project at Evergreen Forest Elementary School in Lacey in November. Evergreen Forest is one of five schools in the North Thurston school district where elevated lead levels were found in water fixtures, the district announced Thursday night. Staff photographer

Elevated levels of lead were found in water fixtures, including sinks, faucets and drinking water fountains, in five of the 21 schools in North Thurston Public Schools, according to a news release issued Thursday evening.

The affected schools are Meadows, Evergreen Forest and Mountain View elementary schools, Aspire Middle School and North Thurston High School.

Families and staff members have been notified at those sites, and bottled water will be brought in where lead levels were high in drinking water fixtures, according to Courtney Schrieve, a spokeswoman for the nearly 14,700-student district. In addition, the affected fixtures have been shut off and will require follow-up testing, she said.

Testing drinking water quality is a two-step process that starts with sample testing lead accumulation in stagnant water. If the sample test shows potential elevated levels of lead above the action level of 20 parts per billion, those fixtures and similar fixtures are immediately shut off and undergo a follow-up test.

Here are the results of schools that had levels prompting some type of action by the district. Follow-up test results will be available:

Meadows Elementary School: One classroom drinking water fountain sample indicated at 93.5 parts per billion. Drinking water restrictions were placed on that classroom and in those with similar faucets. Bottled water will be brought into those classrooms.

Evergreen Forest Elementary School: One classroom faucet (currently not in use as a classroom due to school remodeling) sample indicated at or above 22.6 parts per billion. No drinking water restrictions.

Mountain View Elementary School: One classroom drinking water faucet sample indicated at or above 37.4 parts per billion. Drinking water restrictions on similar faucets in other classrooms. Bottled water will be brought in to those classrooms.

Aspire Middle School: One kitchen faucet that is not used for food preparation sample indicated at or above 20.7 parts per billion (ppb). No drinking water restrictions.

North Thurston High School: One classroom faucet sink indicated at or above 23.1 parts per billion (ppb). No drinking water restrictions. Similar faucets will be shut off.

In May, the district hired Aqua Test Inc. of Maple Valley to test for lead in its water fixtures at all of its schools. It cost about $6,500 for the tests, Schrieve said.

Schools districts around the state, including neighboring Olympia School District, have done voluntary testing in recent weeks after the discovery of high levels of lead in more than a dozen Tacoma schools.

“While water testing is still an unfunded state mandate, we felt it was vital to the health and safety of our students and staff not to wait,” Schrieve said.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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