Schools are waiting on test results for lead in water

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2016 at 5:21 pm

Four of the five school districts in Orleans County are waiting for the results to see if there are elevated lead levels in the water outlets.

New York State on Sept. 6 passed a new law requiring water in schools be tested for lead. The state gave the school until Oct. 31 to get the tests done.

Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina have all been tested, but they are waiting for the results.

Medina tested drinking fountains and water outlets in the spring and the results showed no spots had elevated levels, said Mark Kruzynski, the district’s business administrator. Medina did that before the state law was enacted.

However, the state’s new mandate required expansive testing, including any source of water, Kruzynski said.

“Now we have to test all every possible place where water comes out,” Kruzynski said today.

The schools hired contractors to do the tests. Only Kendall has the results back and Kendall’s showed one classroom sink in the Jr./Sr. Science wing is above acceptable levels for lead. The affected sink will be posted as unacceptable for drinking, but is safe for hand washing, Julie Christensen, the school district superintendent, said last week.

In the Kendall Elementary School, six outlets located in low-use classrooms/restrooms tested above the acceptable threshold for lead. Christensen said of those six, four are located in limited-use office areas. She said signs in those areas indicate sinks should only be used for hand washing and three affected water fountains will be shut off until they are replaced.

In Buffalo, 18 city schools have tested positive for elevated levels of lead, The Buffalo News reported today.

Before the new law was approved on Sept. 6, schools in New York were not required to test their drinking water for lead, or notify parents or government officials of results.

“These rigorous new protections for New York’s children include the toughest lead contamination testing standards in the nation, and provide clear guidance to schools on when and how they should test their water,” Governor Cuomo said on Sept. 6. “As children begin another school year, I’m proud to sign this legislation, which marks a major step forward in protecting the public health and ensuring the future growth and success of students across the state.”

(Includes reporting by correspondent Kristina Gabalski.)