(Imbler) – This summer, the Imbler School District tested drinking water sites at all of its schools for the potential presence of lead. A total of twenty-one sites were tested. Results from Magic Valley Labs indicate that one of the sites showed lead levels above EPA acceptable limits. The rest of the sites were below acceptable limits.
The district is immediately developing an action plan to address the sites with elevated lead levels, which may include repair or replacement of plumbing parts. These sites will then be re-tested. Until re-tests indicate levels are under acceptable limits, the water source will not be available to students or staff.
The Imbler School District joined school districts across eastern Oregon who are testing their drinking water this summer. Currently, there are no state or federal requirements for schools to test drinking water for lead, and it has not been a practice in the past. In mid May, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) created a plan regarding lead in school water. The plan requests all school districts that get drinking water from public water systems test for lead in school buildings; requires districts to use certified drinking water testing labs to process the water samples; asks ODE and OHA to develop a method for schools to report results to OHA; and for OHA to provide drinking water expertise to schools for support as they test.
Many schools receive their water from community or city water systems. These public water systems regularly test the water and many already treat the water to help reduce corrosion of plumbing. However, lead that is present in pipes and fixtures in building plumbing can enter the water at the tap and expose those who drink it --- that is why sampling and testing for lead at each tap is important.
“The Imbler School District has complied with Oregon state guidelines to test our water sites, and we are now addressing the sites where elevated levels were detected. We will continue to monitor this and keep communicating to parents and our community,” said Angie Lakey-Campbell, superintendent.
A copy of all the district’s water testing results can be viewed at the district office, 6th & Esther Street in Imbler, and at the link below. For questions or more information about the district water testing, contact Angie Lakey-Campbell, 541-534-5331, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some state funds may be available in fall 2016 to reimburse school districts who test their drinking water this summer.
For more information about the plan to support school districts, please visit the Oregon Health Authority at http://www.oregon.gov/oha/news/.