Windsor-Essex school boards deal with lead in water at several schools
WINDSOR -- Windsor-Essex school boards say they have measures in place to deal with lead in water that exceeds the provincial guidelines.
The Greater Essex County District School Board tells CTV News five schools in 2019 showed lead levels exceeding the provincial guideline of 10 parts per billion.
The boards says they are addressing those exceedances by replacing plumbing in the areas of concern.
In 2018, the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board had 18 exceedances at fountains or taps and five of those fountains were decommissioned.
The remaining 13 were tested at safe levels after flushing protocols were used.
Both boards are confident they have the proper measures in place to make sure drinking water in their schools is safe.
Kathy Quenneville, the energy and environment officer at the GECDSB says every time there is a lead exceedance they have to contact the health unit and work together to decide what corrective actions they need to take.
“There's more samples being collected now than ever,” says Phil Wong, manager of environmental health at the Windsor/Essex County Health Unit.
“If you have high exposure to lead you will develop lower IQ, learning abilities, things of that nature," says Wong.
Testing for lead levels in local schools is done yearly, mainly in the summer.
"From May 1 to October 31 is the window for sampling," says Quenneville.
Quenneville says samples come from every tap or fountain found in a school.
There are two samples taken from the water – standing and flush.
“The standing sample is taken right away after the plumbing sat for over six hours and the flush samples take after a five minute flush at the tap," she says.
If the level is over the legal guidelines, action is immediately taken.
"We either remove the fixture, we replace the plumbing to the fixture we had a new fixture we also replace some of the main plumbing lines in the school," says Quenneville.
One sample doesn't represent an entire school at either board.
Director of communications with the WECDSB Stephen Fields says there have been cases of high lead levels in some of their schools over the years.
“You could have a situation where one fountain in the school has an exceedance and you could have one a little bit further down the hallway where there's not an exceedance," says Fields.
Due to specific protocols, he is confident the drinking water is safe to consume.
"We would never let anyone enter one of our buildings and consume water that didn't meet government regulations for safety standards," says Fields.
Both school boards have data that is available to the public.
You can see those numbers by simply calling the school board or by contacting the school of your interest.