CCS buildings pass water lead testing

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County Schools has completed water testing for lead and copper at each of its facilities in compliance with new Alabama State Board of Education requirements.

Maintenance Department director Freddy Smith said all of the schools are now in compliance.

“I was really pleased with how the tests came out,” Smith said.

Only two locations, PASS Academy and the S.P.A.N. program building, had initially shown issues.

Each location had a water fountain that failed the lead test.

Smith said this was because students at these locations received donations of bottled water and had not been using the fountains.

“If a fountain is left sitting for a couple of months, any fountain, is going to fail,” Smith said.

Both water fountains have since been replaced and passed the lead tests.

Smith said he has also encouraged the facilities to use the water fountains to ensure this is not a problem again.

School buildings are required to have water fountains.

Action is required if water tests at .020 MGIL or higher for lead.

Smith said he had been concerned that more of the schools would have issues because of the age of the buildings.

“We are fortunate. We have really good water in the county and in the City of Clanton and the other cities around, so this is also a testament to them,” Smith said.

Initially, Smith planned on conducting the tests himself and completed the certification required.

“I got to thinking about it, if I did it myself … I wouldn’t have representation if something happened,” Smith said.

Instead, the school system hired Enersolv in Decatur. Smith had met a representative of the company at the Alabama School Plant Management Association Conference.

The school system was put on the companies waiting list.

Tests were conducted at 4:30 or 5 a.m. when water had not been used for at least eight hours. Water was tested from up to three water fountains, the cafeteria prep sink and the nurse’s station. The water was captured when the fountain or sink was first turned on. The samples were then sealed and stored in containers with ice to keep it cool. The samples were then sent to the lab for testing. Smith said the tests took a couple of weeks.

Smith said such tests are important because water can become highly ionized and erode lead and copper from pipes to unsafe levels.

“A lot people don’t realize but water is a kind of aliving thing … If it doesn’t get what it needs, it tries taking it from what it’s in,” Smith said.

The tests cost $4,000 and were funded through the school system’s maintenance budget. Smith said it was a good price for everything they were getting from the company.

Enersov also sends a copy of the report to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.