16 schools show elevated lead levels after systems are flushed
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education asked all schools in the province to test their drinking water.
The request followed news from the Prince Rupert school district.
That’s where four schools tested positive for elevated lead levels.
In Victoria, 16 schools tested for elevated lead levels “after” the waters lines were flushed.
Mary Griffin visited one school to see how they are dealing with the issue.
Turning on the tap.
Letting the water run.
For Braefoot Elementary’s custodian Darren Murdoch, flushing the water lines is part of his daily routine, now three times a day.
“What I’m doing three times a day, once in the morning, once at lunch, and once around two o’clock, I will open up one of the systems here and let the water run for 15 to 20 minutes.”
Braefoot is one of 16 schools in the Victoria school district with elevated lead levels in its drinking water.
The results were not expected says Mark Walsh, the secretary-treasurer for the school district.
“I was surprised by the results.
Our expectation was that the flushing program that we had in place for many, many years would be sufficient to take care of the concerns.
But it turns out we need to do some more work.”
That means replacing the five fountains at Braefoot with new ones that filter the water.
Each drinking fountain is 12 hundred dollars, one that refills bottles is three thousand dollars.
That won’t happen until the fall, but PAC president Sarah Hannay, who also works at the school is not worried.
“I’m not overly concerned.
I mean, my son is going into grade three so he’s been drinking this water since kindergarten.
He seems OK to me.”
Most students in this grade one class keep a water bottle on their desk.
Clean drinking water is a priority according to principal Tarj Mann.
“Children’s health is our priority at all times.
What we can do now is put our faith in the system, that we’re doing everything that we can.”
The district hasn’t released the numbers indicating the amount of lead in the water, but say it’s not a health risk.
“Parents would have an expectation that when they get back in September, they are going to be able to look around and be fully confident with flush or no flush.
That the water is completely safe at schools.”
The district is going to have the water re-tested with an outside company.
So in the future, grade one student old Hudson Peters, will have access to clean, safe, drinking water.
To read the reports, and see the list of affected schools: https://www.sd61.bc.ca/