Schools Move to Remediate Faucets With Elevated Lead Levels

Photo: 14 taps and faucets have been shut off at Belmont schools for action level of lead in the water.

With a total of 14 school-based water faucets identified with elevated lead levels under specific conditions, the Belmont Public Schools has begun working with town and state resources to remediate the problem.

“We will continue to work together as a [t]own to provide healthy school environments for all students in Belmont,” Belmont Superintendent John Phelan in a letter sent to parents and guardians on Dec. 19.

The school district is joining with the Belmont Board of Health, Water Department, Facilities Department and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to review the tests and come up with steps to resolve the worrisome spigots located in five of six public school buildings.

In a Friday, Dec. 16 email sent to parents; Phelan revealed that the second round of testing of all faucets used by staff or students showed nine taps exceeding “action limits” for lead exposure.

They included:

Butler Elementary School, 6
Wellington Elementary, 1
Chenery Middle, 1
Belmont High, 1.
On Monday, Dec. 19, an additional five faucets were placed on the list of troublesome outlets:

Belmont High, 3
Burbank Elementary, 2
Only Winn Brook Elementary was free of suspect faucets.

The 14 taps were shut down, and the town departments led by the Facilities Department are determining if each valve can be brought within state safety standards or if any needs to be replaced or decommissioned permanently.

The School District compiled a spreadsheet with specific health data from the 14 effected faucets in addition to information from each of Belmont’s six schools

Phelan noted that of the 14 problem taps, water from 10 faucets fell below the “action level” once they are “flushed” by allowing the water to run through the pipes for “some time.”

“This tells us that those ten faucets … are producing ‘clean’ water” after the flushing process, said Phelan, who said the town’s Board of Health has determined that the town’s water source “has a good and clean sources.”

Belmont is one of 164 public school buildings in the state reported at least one sample with lead levels above regulatory limits, the DEP said.

With water quality regarding lead contamination – the most prominent being the crisis in Flint, Michigan – making headlines across the country, the Belmont school department in the Spring 2016 requested the town’s Facilities Department test the water at Belmont’s school buildings.

Fifty faucets were randomly tested throughout the school buildings, with all coming back to safe levels.

Around the same time, the DEP sponsored $2 million in grants for municipalities to have their water levels tested. Belmont applied for and received this award, said Phelan.

The second sampling was conducted this fall testing all 180 drinking water and food preparation faucets in Belmont schools using more detailed DEP guidelines. On Wednesday, Dec. 14, nine were found to have results exceeding “action levels” for lead.

“I appreciate that support of all the [t]own departments that work together every day, year-round, to support our school children and staff,” said Phelan.

For questions or concerns, please contact the Belmont Health Department at 671-993-2720 or email the district at jphelanblog@belmont.k12.ma.us

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