School is back in session and Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is on top of keeping students and staff safe by testing water for lead.
A recent report by the San Francisco Chronicle stated that few California school districts took measures to test water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Under the 2017 Permit Amendments, schools were not required to have their potable water systems tested, but had the option to do so. SCUSD started testing their water earlier this year.
“We started testing in April, and the whole process began one to two months prior,” said James Bakos, Director of Maintenance and Ground Operations for the SCUSD. “We had to [first create] the sample plan and write the letter.”
By July 1, 2019, all California public K-12 schools, preschools and childcare facilities are required by state law test their water fountains. The only time the water samples can be gathered is during the school year.
Even before it was mandated to test the water fountains for any lead contamination, SCUSD took precautions to ensure clean water at their school sites.
“The maintenance department installed three water stations and drinking fountains at every site and the district office,” said Jennifer Dericco, Public Information Officer for the SCUSD. “The equipment is serviced by the preventative maintenance.”
The new water stations help contain contamination — including lead. Starting in 1999, the Bond Projects program replaced all water lines, fixtures and drinking fountains within school buildings. Most underground waterlines were replaced as well.
No lead has been detected in the water tested from the five schools that have been tested so far. Five different samples per school were collected from food service areas, high use water fountains, classrooms and common areas. The samples are picked at random for testing.
Braly Elementary School, Ponderosa Elementary School, Patrick Henry, Peterson Middle School were tested April 24-27 and Mayne Elementary School was tested on April 3. The rest of the school district will be tested between September and October. SCUSD’s testing will be completed almost a year before the July 2019 deadline.
Dericco said the district will keep open communication with the community about this process and will let them know the results as soon as the testing is concluded.
“We want the community to know that we had a proactive measure to ensure that drinking water for our students and our staff is safe,” said Dericco. “This is a priority to us.”