D64 water testing verifies safe levels

D64 water testing verifies safe levels

Message from Ron DeGeorge, Director of Facility Management

On January 16, 2017, Governor Rauner signed Senate Bill (SB) 0550 (Illinois Public Act 99-0922) into law. This law requires all school districts in Illinois to complete water testing at all Pre-K - 5 sites built before January 1, 1987. The water sources tested are accessible to students, faculty and staff for cooking and/or drinking.

District 64 went beyond these guidelines and tested all Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) required drinking water sources within our Pre-K - 5 schools and our two middle schools, as well as a number of non-required drinking water and/or potable water sources within the school buildings.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets what’s called an action level for lead in water at 15 parts per billion (ppb). However, the Illinois law establishes more stringent guidelines, requiring districts to take action and notify parents if lead is found in water when levels are at or above 5 ppb. Please note that neither the 15 ppb, nor the state’s threshold of 5 ppb, are a health-based standard. Both the EPA and state levels were set to trigger organizations to take action and mitigate the levels of lead, but are not accompanied by any requirements regarding medical tests or healthcare.

School District 64 contracted with United Analytical Services, Inc., an environmental health company, to conduct both the required and extended testing we opted to conduct. The testing took place at Jefferson Pre-K Center; Carpenter, Field, Franklin, Roosevelt and Washington Elementary Schools; as well as Emerson and Lincoln Middle Schools.

United Analytical Services, Inc., collected water samples from 189 water sources between October 28 and November 1, 2017 from these eight sites. Standards established by IDPH for lead testing in schools can be found here.

Within the 189 sources, the testing verified that all functioning drinking fountains at District 64 schools have met national standards and are considered safe for students and staff members to drink from.

District 64 results showed that out of the 189 water sources tested using IDPH guidelines, 184 were within safe/acceptable ranges. Five of the 189 water sources were found to have levels higher than the IDPH notification requirement of 5 ppb. The five identified sources requiring attention are:

  • Carpenter School - one classroom sink in Room 100. This sink is not used for drinking by staff or students.
  • Field School - one sink in the Literacy Space within Room 101. This sink is not used for drinking by staff or students.
  • Roosevelt School - one classroom sink in Room 106. This sink is not used for drinking by staff or students.
  • Jefferson Center - one classroom sink in Room 108 and the Multipurpose Room bubble fountain. The classroom sink is not used for drinking by staff or students, and this bubbler is not used by staff or students.

The District is following IDPH mitigation guidance for the above five water sources:

  • The devices have been turned off.
  • Fixtures are being replaced and will be retested by United Analytical Services, Inc. to determine if levels decrease to within the designated ppb range.
  • If not, signage will be added stating: Use for Handwashing Only OR they will be removed entirely.

To summarize, all functioning drinking fountains at District 64 schools have met national standards and are considered safe for students and staff members to drink from. As part of our facility improvement efforts, District 64 over the past two summers has replaced 27 drinking fountains with filtered drinking fountains and bottle fillers. We have also added a filtered water system in our staff lounges.    

Please know that the safety of our staff and students is our top priority. Should you have any questions, please contact  me at rdegeorge@d64.org. Additional information also may be found on the Water Testing webpage of our website.