Skamania School, built in 1946, is an aging building with few upgrades in the last 50 years. One of the challenges of an old building is our aging pipes and fixtures. These appear to be causing the recent elevated levels of lead in some locations of our water system. Therefore, as you can see from the list below, we are taking every precaution to reduce exposure of our students and staff.
Skamania School has taken the following precautions:
- Each morning before school we flush water through the pipes by running the cold-water tap at each fixture until the water is noticeably colder. The longer water has been sitting in the pipes, the more dissolved metals it may contain.
- We have discontinued the use of water stations with the highest levels of lead, e.g., library.
- Students are asked to fill water bottles from the drinking fountains in the hall. These have historically shown low lead levels. We will be installing filtered water bottle filling stations at these drinking fountains, and we will be providing bottled water as an option in the near future.
- We have scheduled an additional water testing. In 2017, the Washington State Legislature provided funding to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to test for lead in drinking water in public schools in an effort to reduce children’s overall exposure to lead in the environment. As part of our commitment to ensuring that the health of our students and staff is protected, we will be participating in this program. DOH staff will sample every fixture that provides drinking water to students or is used to prepare food.The testing will be done prior to the school day before students are in the building.Testing is done first thing in the morning, when water has been sitting in plumbing for a certain period of time. Water that remains in pipes overnight, over a weekend, or over vacation periods stays in contact with lead pipes or lead solder and, as a result, could contain higher levels of lead. This “first draw” sample is likely to show higher levels of lead for that outlet than what you would see if you sampled after using the water continuously. However, even if the first draw sample does not reflect what you would see with continuous usage, it is still important because it can identify outlets that have elevated lead levels. Any fixtures with unacceptable levels as a result of this test will be placed out of service.
- I am searching for state funding sources, including grants to re-plumb the building, including replacing fixtures in order to take care of this issue permanently. This action will take longer to address; however, in the meantime, we are taking all of the precautions outlined to ensure the safety of students and staff.
For more information on reducing lead exposure and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site or contact your health care provider.
Information on lead in drinking water is available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or online: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead
You may also access Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water website.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Feel free to call us at (509) 427-8239 or come in and visit.
Dr. Ralph Pruitt, Superintendent