Water tests for lead to begin soon at 27 Boise schools

Posted at 1:01 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 19:11:31-04

Following Wednesday’s announcement that water tested at Fairmont Junior High School in Boise had registered positive for elevated levels of lead, the Boise School District said Thursday that it hopes to start testing the water at 27 other schools within a week.

All water faucets and fixtures at Fairmont which failed the testing were immediately taken out of service, and are being replaced, officials said. 

Previous testing at Fairmont in 2017 did not show any lead levels above the EPA threshold. However, tests conducted in mid-September of this year at the school indicated the presence of lead in some fixtures such as faucets, not from the water source. 

In addition to Fairmont, the District has 27 schools built before 1986. In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials. Though the Environmental Protection Agency does not require it, the District is in the process of proactively testing water at 27 other schools built before 1986, and taking extra steps to ensure availability of safe drinking water for students and staff.

“How long the test will take at each school will depend upon the number of water fixtures each school has and the size of the schools -– since there are different (water fixture) standards for elementary and secondary schools,” said Boise School District spokesman Ryan Hill.

“We’ve been told by our facilities people that we should know the test results of each school in seven to ten days from the times the tests are conducted. And we hope to have all the results from all the schools in about three weeks,” he added.

A number of concerned parents have contacted the School District with questions about whether they should have their children tested by health care providers. “We’re working with the State Department of Environment Quality to help us answer those questions,” Hill said.

“We want to be as accommodating as possible to the parents and their children, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in the testing process,” Hill added.

The District hopes to release more information late Thursday or early Friday as to when the testing will begin. 

As the tests proceed, District officials say they are taking the extra precaution of requiring custodians at each of the 27 schools to follow EPA guidelines by running water at each of the school’s water fixtures each morning and afternoon to clear the lines, altering water bottle policies, and reaching out to the public. 

The 27 schools which will be tested are:

7.Fort Boise 
18.Maple Grove 
20.Mountain View 
23.Pierce Park