Nanaimo school district will wait for a response from Island Health before delving into the issue of testing water for lead at schools.
In late-February, the Ministry of Education instructed the district to work with Island Health to develop a strategy to test water quality at schools that were built before 1989, Pete Sabo, district planning and operations director said to the school business committee at its June 8 meeting.
“Staff have contacted … our local health officer responsible for water, whom we work with all the time testing wells and meeting their guidelines in Canadian water standards and they’re working on an Island-wide solution and they’ll be publishing some response to this letter very shortly,” said Sabo.
District staff feel that no measures should be taken to test for lead until that is made known, Sabo said.
Jason Keenan, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, said school districts will be given an annual reminder about water testing. They will be asked to report any problems they find and any mitigation they put in place.
Standard questions will be developed, in order to ensure that information from districts is consistent, and the ministry will also establish a deadline. It will expect all districts to test or provide details if it is deemed that testing is not needed, said Keenan.
Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer, said he estimates something will be in place by September.
“It’s not known in terms of the specifics. This is what we would do normally.
“We would test the water on a Monday morning before it’s being used, find out what its like in its worst circumstances, run that tap for a minute or two, test it again,” Hasselback said.
“What we’ll find out by the first test is whether we need to continue tests. If it’s low after it’s been sitting there for the whole weekend, we don’t need to keep testing it.”
Hasselback said there haven’t been any recent complaints of lead in water of Nanaimo schools.
“There was some testing done back in the ‘90s. Nothing was really notable, but I don’t honestly think I could sit here and tell you that we have a comprehensive, systematic testing system in place,” said Hasselback.