Water Fountains with High Lead in Tarrytown Schools Shut Down

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by Rick Pezzullo

Two water fountains in two schools in the Tarrytown School District were shut down in late May after recent tests showed a lead content higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations.

In a May 24 letter to district staff and parents, interim Schools Superintendent Daniel McCann reported one fountain at Washington Irving Intermediate School and one at Morse Elementary School were off limits.

However, McCann stated district officials consulted with School Physician Dr. Lawrence Goldstein, who indicated the test levels at the fountains at Washington Irving and Morse were “not high enough to cause any issues.”

According to McCann, the district voluntarily tested water sources at all district schools and the Administration Building in late April “in an effort to be proactive and respond to the growing concerns regarding levels of lead in drinking water at the region’s public schools.”

In the schools, 170 samples were collected at locations throughout the district. Thirteen samples initially came back higher than the EPA recommended level of 15 mg /liter. Those locations were retested, which is standard operating procedure, by running or flushing the water for 30 seconds. Only two samples then came back higher than recommended levels.

McCann stated “the EPA’s recommendations serve as a useful warning sign for water systems that might show signs of corrosion. The more corrosive the water, the more lead that could leach from old plumbing. Generally, only when more than 10% of a system’s tap water samples show lead concentrations above 15 parts per billion does an alert go out to customers.”

He noted remediation of the fountains at Washington Irving and Morse, along with retesting, would take place as soon as possible.

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