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SD61 to install new water fountains over lead concerns

They’re installing 350 new water fountains in local schools due to concerns over elevated levels of lead in the water system

The Greater Victoria School District is combatting concerns about elevated levels of lead in its drinking water by announcing it will install 350 new water fountains in local schools.

Last year they invested $200,000 in water filtration systems for sinks and fountains after recent findings from lead analysis tests prompted action to improve the water quality. Results from this year’s inspection show there has been an improvement in reducing the lead content in the water, but there are still some instances of elevated traces, specifically when stagnant water has been sitting in the pipes for an extended period of time.

Read More: Lead detected in Saanich schools’ drinking water

The samples were collected from 21 school across the district, with staff intentionally selecting sites that produced higher lead concentrations during last year’s test in an effort to analyze the effectiveness of the new filter system.

“When we saw the latest water quality test results, the Board of Education was quick to provide the necessary financial support required for new fountains,” noted Board Chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga. “We are committed to eliminating lead in our schools’ water and will be working with the Ministry to seek financial support for this retrofit.”

Read More: Greater Victoria school district upgrades water fountains

Health Canada sets its guideline for the acceptable amount of lead concentration in drinking water at 0.010mg/L (10ppb). Full test results can be found on the SD61 website.

“When we saw the latest water quality test results, the Board of Education was quick to provide the necessary financial support required for new fountains,” noted Board Chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga. “We are committed to eliminating lead in our schools’ water and will be working with the Ministry to seek financial support for this retrofit.”

SD 61 will begin its water fountain replacement in 2018 at a preliminary cost estimate of $350,000.

In the meantime, students and staff have been reminded to run the tap for up to 30 seconds before drinking the water. Stickers with information have also been placed on the fountains as an additional safety measure.

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