Lead levels acceptable in some North Okanagan schools’ water

Vernon district upgrades facilities to remove lead fittings and pipes, while North Okanagan-Shuswap still making improvements

Parents don’t have to worry about their kids drinking lead-tainted water, according to the Vernon School District.

The district, which has 15 schools, including the board office, has completed upgrades to each of the buildings that previously failed to meet Health Canada’s water standards.

A report in 2018 (from testing done in August and September), showed several schools didn’t meet Health Canada standards, including BX, Cherryville, Kidston, Mission Hill, Beairsto and Lavington elementary schools and Kalamalka Secondary.

The district said upgrades were made shortly after the report was filed.

“Since the 2018 report, the lead levels at these locations have been rectified to under the allowable lead content level,” School District No. 22’s communications specialist Maritza Reilly said.

“This is thanks to our maintenance team who are constantly monitoring and testing our facilities and making the required adjustments when needed.”

Health Canada standards for the allowable lead content were decreased from .01 milligrams to .005 milligrams per litre in March 2019.

READ MORE: School District #83 working to meet standards for lead in drinking water

Superintendent Joe Rogers points out that some schools, like many homes in Vernon have old infrastructure, including lead pipes which is how the substance may get into water.

The source of lead in the tap water, whether at schools or homes, is likely to be from plumbing materials, he said.

Lead dissolves into water when the water sits stagnant for a long period of time in lead pipes, lead solder and older brass or bronze taps and fixtures.

The concern is schools serve a population of young children that are more vulnerable to lead exposure.

Along with replacing any fixtures containing lead components, the district’s maintenance department conducts daily flushing of fixtures before anyone has entered the school and consumes water.

The upgrades also follow testing in 2016, which revealed elevated levels of lead in initial samples at Crossroads, Cherryville, BX, Mission Hill, Kalamalka and W.L. Seaton schools.

READ MORE: Water lines flushed after lead detected in schools

READ MORE: Most public schools in Abbotsford and Mission have water contaminated with lead

Year schools were built:

Alexis Park 1972

Beairsto 1910

School Board office 1978

Charles Bloom 1950

BX Elementary 1962

Cherryville 1949

Coldstream 2010

Crossroads Alternative 1996

DAC Alternative 1972

Ellison 1998

Fulton 1994

Harwood 1955

Hillview 1962

JW Inglis 1955

Kal 1976


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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