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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Water quality tests conducted on the water supply in the Oregon City School District revealed trace amounts of lead in four drinking fountains and an elevated level in one sink.

There was no evidence of lead contamination at or above the action level set by the Environmental Protection Agency in any of the drinking fountains in the district.

The EPA establishes an action level for lead detected at or above 15 parts per billion or more.

The decision to test the drinking water in the schools was made after some on Oregon City Council inquired whether the school district’s fountains had ever been tested for lead in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“We reached out to the school district to do testing at the school buildings,” said City Administrator Mike Beazley. “We just want to make sure that the systems we have in place are working.”

“With all the water concerns around the area, we took a proactive approach working with the City of Oregon to go ahead and test our drinking fountains for lead,” Superintendent Hal Gregory said at a recent school board meeting. “The results just recently came back. They were very, very good.”

Low levels
Three of the fountains with low levels of lead were at Wynn Elementary School. Two of the fountains detected lead at 5 parts per billion, and one detected lead at 14 parts per billion.

“We had one fountain at Clay High School that detected five parts per billion,” he said. “And then we had one sink fixture at Eisenhower that had 62 parts per billion. It’s going to feel like an alarming number. But we learned that any fixtures sold before 2014 have lead in them. If they sit idle, - aren’t used a lot - lead is going to be detected just about anywhere. This sink is very rarely, if ever, used. That’s why that number was very high. We’re going to put in a new fixture. “

Although no action is required, he said, the district plans to replace the fountains because there was lead detected in them.

“Anything that came back with even a hint of lead, we’re going to replace,” he said. “We’re going to be as lead free as can be. All and all, the city was very proud with our low lead levels. There’s nothing to be concerned about,” said Gregory. “I do want the board to know that we have handled that, and we’re in real good shape related to lead. We anticipated at some point in time someone asking about the condition of our fountains. And the key is that we know the kids’ drinking water is safe.”

Anti-corrosive agent
Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley said the city uses an anti-corrosive agent at the water treatment plant so that lead that may be in a fixture doesn’t end up in the drinking water.

“We reached out to the schools because of all the attention being paid to the Flint drinking crisis,” he said.

The City of Flint in 2014 detected toxic levels of lead in its drinking water after the city changed its water supply from the treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River, which officials had failed to treat with anti-corrosive agents. As a result, lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

“Oregon, like most systems, has an excellent practice of adding appropriate anti-corrosives to make sure any lead in the fixtures in a home, school or business, does not end up in the drinking water. If you have a seldom used fixture, or an older one where they used more lead in its manufacturing, anti-corrosives do not do any good. You might have water sitting in an old drinking fountain or faucet. If they are regularly used, then there isn’t a problem. That’s why it is recommended to run your water after coming home from a trip. Especially if you have older plumbing fixtures and faucets that might have more lead in them.”

Beazley added that water quality tests are conducted in city owned buildings every three years.

“We have a regular three year cycle. Our system tests well. We want to be aware of these issues to make sure we never have any problems,” he said.

 

 

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