Two Wicomico Co. schools test positive for lead in water
Some parents in Wicomico County received an email that they probably never thought they'd get, on Wednesday. They were told that water at two schools have elevated levels of lead.
Fruitland Primary and Pinehurst Elementary schools both have higher levels of lead than Maryland allows. The county's Board of Ed. says they tested 371 water fixtures throughout their schools and 19 of those did not meet the state's standards.
Dr. Donna Hanlin, Superintendent of Wicomico County Schools said in a statement, "Wicomico County Public Schools’ number one priority is the safety of our 15,000 students and 3,000 employees, and that is why we are being proactive and accelerating our testing schedule far in advance of the state’s regulations governing the testing of water outlets in our schools. If an outlet exceeds state lead levels, WCBOE is taking that outlet out of service immediately, and replacing it with a new outlet and then it’s being re-tested to make sure the water is below state mandated levels.”
Officials previously told 47 ABC that they knew about the elevated lead levels on May 23, 2018. But they didn't alert parents until 10 days later, which is the last day of the required time frame.
On Wednesday officials said, if results came back above the Action Level of 20 parts per billion for lead, that particular faucet/fixture was shut down/turned off within two hours of receiving the test results.
They also say all faucets/fixtures with elevated lead results have been replaced with new ones, and won’t be put back into service until additional water testing has verified the lead results are below the State Legal Limit.
Additionally WCBOE says, "The Maryland law, issued a specific timeline for the initial testing of lead in drinking water outlets in schools as follows, and WCPS is being proactive in having our outlets tested early."
Paul Butler, Director of Communications & Community Outreach for WCBOE, says, "All Wicomico County Public elementary schools were tested prior to close of school on June 15th. Westside Primary, Northwestern Elementary and Mardela Middle and High School are exempt because they fall under the EPA 3T Lead and Copper rule for schools with wells."
Butler says Northwestern Elementary was tested before to the issuance of the new regulations and is now in compliance with the new law.
Meanwhile, grades 6 through 8 schools built after 1988 must be tested prior to July 1, 2019. WCBOE says it will conduct testing at these schools when school reopens in September of 2018.
High schools built after 1988 must be tested prior to July 1, 2020. WCBOE says it will conduct testing at these schools when school reopens in September of 2018.