Water test finds some lead in Williamston schools

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By Kelsey Clements
The Williamston Post

Officials have replaced boiler room valves in two Williamston schools where lead was found over acceptable limits and will address other fixtures where lead was present by June.

The valves at Williamston High School and Explorer Elementary did not carry drinking water, according to Superintendent Narda Murphy. But water tested by Testing Engineers & Consultants on Feb. 13 contained lead levels above the threshold of 0.015 mg/L.

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Created by Kelsey Clements using information from a letter that the superintendent, Narda Murphy, sent out to parents and community members based on the water testing results from Testing Engineers & Consultants.

Small amounts of lead were also found in a teacher’s lounge faucet in Williamston High School, a restroom drinking fountain in Explorer Elementary, a kitchen sink and 7th grade hall drinking fountain in Williamston’s Middle School, and a maintenance garage bathroom sink. Murphy said the testing company assured her that these levels are safe and that no further action is necessary. 

As a precautionary action, the faucet, drinking fountains, and sink will be replaced by June and will be re-tested after the replacement is complete, according to Murphy.

She said the lead is from the faucet itself, including the soldering and welds in the infrastructure within the faucet. Replacing the faucets and specific parts will reduce the lead levels.

“The water testing engineer explained that many times it is the soldering or welding that is the source of the containment,” said Murphy.

The water testing results were shared at a public school board meeting on March 21. Murphy also said that the cost of replacing both boiler room valves is $150. It will cost $500 to replace the teacher’s lounge sink, middle school’s kitchen prep sink and drinking fountains in the middle school and elementary school.

Murphy said that the contracted cost for sampling and testing was $1,750. This included the day spent sampling, lab costs, and documentation of the results.

“I do not have any concerns about the quality of our water,” said Murphy. “Our results were exceptional. We are so fortunate to have such a great water source and great facilities. How can we not feel so fortunate given the crisis that the people, and especially the children, in Flint are enduring?”

According to Williamston School Board member Joel Gerring, there is no law that states that schools must get their water tested. He said the reason Williamston decided to do some testing is because of the recent concern due to the Flint water crisis.

Despite this, Murphy said that Williamston Community Schools plans to test the water again, but is not sure of the timeline yet.

“Water testing for schools who do not have a stand-alone water source such as a well system are not required,” said Murphy. “Our water source is from the city of Williamston and they test according to timelines established by the state of Michigan. Because of the awareness brought about by the tragic circumstances in Flint, all schools are on a heightened alert for the potential of contaminants.”

Murphy said that she has not heard of any concerns from parents.

Scott Chandler, manager of the Industrial Hygiene Services Department for Testing Engineers & Consultants Inc., which tested the schools water, declined to comment.

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