Town Provides Update On Lead Testing At Wilmington Schools

WILMINGTON, MA — The Town is continuing its proactive testing of water fixtures in response to recent reports of elevated lead and copper in school water supplies throughout the country. The Department of Public Buildings began by testing water fountains and kitchen faucets, as potential sources of drinking water, in the Town’s schools in May. As previously reported, of the 52 fixtures in the first round of samples, four were found to have slightly elevated lead levels. Replacement of these fixtures is nearing completion.

Since the close of the school year, the Town has expanded its testing to all faucets including those found in classrooms, lounges and nurses offices. Though not generally used as a source of drinking water or for food preparation, the Town is taking every possible precaution to ensure the water from these fixtures is safe for drinking.

To date, 36 fixtures located in the West Intermediate School and the Boutwell School have been tested. Preliminary results indicate higher levels of lead in 26 of the fixtures.

Staff have been in contact with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, who tested the water samples, and determined that the testing documentation supplied by the Town was incomplete. Further review of the testing process by the Town, revealed some samples were not collected in accordance with the testing protocols established by the MWRA.

The Town is following the recommendations of the MWRA to address the preliminary results. Staff have been retrained on testing protocols and will begin retesting the fixtures. New internal procedures have also been established to ensure all samples collected meet the requirements of the testing protocols. Retesting began on Friday, July 1st and is expected to be complete by Wednesday, July 6th. Out of an abundance of caution these fixtures will be taken out of service in the West Intermediate and Boutwell until the new results are received. Test results are expected in approximately four weeks.

The Wilmington Department of Public Works tests the Town’s water supply for lead, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulations. It is not in the water source, however lead and copper can be evident if the fixtures where the water is coming from contain either of these metals. The evidence of lead and copper increases when a fixture has not been used in days or weeks. For this reason, testing protocols require the fixture to have been used no less than six hours and no more than 18 hours before the water sample is taken. It is believed that for some of the most recent preliminary readings the water had been standing in the fixtures for more than the 18-hour limit.

Lead and copper can have a range of adverse health effects if ingested in elevated doses. The Town is taking all necessary steps to eliminate the source of the metals exposure and ensure the water in the schools is safe to drink. Testing of all school fixtures is expected to be complete before the start of the new School Year. Fixtures found to be above the Action Levels for lead and copper will be taken out of service and replaced as quickly as possible.

For more information contact Town Manager Jeffrey Hull at 978-658-3311 or at jhull@wilmingtonma.gov.

(NOTE: The above press release is from the Town Manager’s Office.)

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