Elevated levels of lead found in water at Beaverton middle schoo - KPTV - FOX 12

Elevated levels of lead found in water at Beaverton middle school

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Discolored water from Highland Park Middle School. (KPTV) Discolored water from Highland Park Middle School. (KPTV)

Elevated levels of lead found in drinking water at a Beaverton middle school, is prompting the district to turn off all drinking fountains there until they figure out what’s going on. 

The Beaverton School District said it was a student, concerned about the color of the water coming from a drinking fountain at Highland Park Middle School, who brought this all to staffs attention. 

The District received preliminary results last week indicating that two of the four drinking fountains tested revealed elevated levels of lead. There were also elevated levels of iron and turbidity in several of the locations sampled, according to the district.

Water used in the kitchen for food preparation did not have elevated levels, according to the district.

“A lot of kids bring refillable water bottles to school, and they fill them from the fountains,” said parent Stacie Camou. “Them drinking poor quality water is not acceptable.”

A letter went home to all Highland Park parents Monday afternoon notifying families about the situation.  The district made mention of the school’s 50-year-old galvanized steel pipes and that they thought water discoloration was likely due to rust.  

The Oregon Health Authority says the amount of lead allowed in water before needing to take action is 15 parts per billion.  

The Beaverton School District says one of their fountains revealed lead levels at 21.2 parts per billion and another at 16.9 parts per billion. They tell FOX 12 their kitchen faucet and two other drinking fountains at the school tested within safety standards.

“I’m questioning why there isn’t regular testing done at a public school, why is it a student had to bring this discoloration to their attention,” questioned Camou. “How long has this been going on if it was visible?”

The District said they retested the same areas Monday, a standard protocol.

Based on these preliminary findings, the district says they are turning off all drinking fountains in hallways and classrooms at the school. They are now providing bottled water dispensers in every classroom, gym, main office, staff room, cafeteria and health room.

The BSD maintenance team will evaluate the system checking the aeration and filtration devices, operating mechanisms and replace parts as needed.

The district said re-piping of the entire school is included in the current bond program and is scheduled for Summer of 2017. 

Advancing this $1.5 million project to 2016 is not feasible due to the time required for design, permitting and construction. The work would entail tearing up hallway floors and walls, etc., which could not be completed by September, according to the district.

The City of Beaverton tells FOX 12 the problem is not stemming from their water supply.

The Oregon Health Authority says last week, staff members met with colleagues at the Oregon Department of Education to begin developing a work plan to address lead in school drinking water.

Among actions being considered in the plan are to:

  • Request all school districts that get water from other systems to test for lead in school buildings.
  • Require schools to use certified drinking water testing labs to process water samples for lead.
  • Develop a database and method for transferring lead test records from labs, schools and school districts to OHA.
  • Provide OHA drinking water expertise to schools as needed.

OHA and ODE are expected to finalize their plan and provide it to the Governor’s Office by the end of June. OHA said if parents are concerned about their child’s health, they should consult their health care provider. 

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