Lead found in school water

Classroom sinks at Monticello’s Lincoln Elementary School are off limits as a source of drinking water after several tested above state limits for lead.

Illinois Public Act 99-0922 approved in January of this year requires all schools with students aged fifth grade and under to test sources of water used for drinking and food preparation.

The statute applies to buildings constructed prior to Jan. 1, 1987, which includes Monticello’s Washington, Lincoln and White Heath Elementary schools.

Parents are required to be notified of sinks or fountains that detect lead levels greater than 5 parts per billion.

No White Heath (grades 2-3)sources were found in violation, while three water fountains at Washington (grades 4-5) were shut down Monday for being in excess of the 5 ppb limit.

Lincoln Elementary (pre-k through first grades), with an original build date of 1911, had the most violations since it has sinks in most of its rooms. When tested on Aug. 16-17, levels as high as 665 ppb were found on the first draw. They dropped significantly after water was run for 30 seconds, sometimes even close to state limits, showing Superintendent Vic Zimmerman that a flushing program is needed.

“Every Monday or when we haven’t been in school, we will now go to the farthest faucet from the main and run the water five minutes. The key is to keep the water moving.”

For now, sinks and fountains that tested high are off limits, although room sinks can still be used for hand washing.

Bottled water for drinking is being provided by the school, and students can bring their own while the problem is being addressed.

“Lead piping was used in all buildings and homes prior to using copper water lines. Due to the age of our buildings a majority of our water lines are lead,” said Zimmerman of the district that has buildings constructed between 1894 to 2003.

Parents were notified of the testing report, which was received by the district over the weekend. Testing of high schools is not required, but Zimmerman said it will be considered since MHS was built in 1924.

The full water testing report is available on the school district website, www.sages.us.




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