Nanaimo school district is anticipated to begin testing schools’ water for lead beginning Nov. 6. (News Bulletin file)
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Nanaimo school district is anticipated to begin testing schools’ water for lead beginning Nov. 6. (News Bulletin file)

VIDEO: Nanaimo school district expands testing for lead in the water

Annual facilities grant money totalling $110,000 allocated for testing, anticipated to begin Nov. 6

After being mandated by the B.C. government in 2016 to test water for lead in facilities built pre-1990, Nanaimo school district has detailed its testing plans for 2017-18.

Like last year, one-third of schools will be tested this year including Wellington and Ladysmith Secondary and Forest Park, École Quarterway, Gabriola, Brechin, Seaview, Departure Bay, École Pauline Haarer elementary schools and the old Mount Benson school.

Testing is anticipated to begin Nov. 6, ending by Nov. 28, and any fixes are expected to occur between Jan. 15 and March 31.

Brian Hackwood, district maintenance manager, spoke about plans at the district’s Oct. 18 regular meeting.

“The Ministry of Health requires we do our testing with only eight hours of stagnant water,” said Hackwood. “We really didn’t think that represented what happens in the schools. The schools actually sit through the whole weekend with the water sitting there, so … the consultant will come into the schools at 2 a.m. on Mondays to take a water sample at that point.”

The district will also make adjustments this year to expedite the process.

“We learned some stuff from Year 1,” Hackwood said. “We found that we did all the testing and held all the testing to the end and then tried to go out to design and tried to go out to contract. It took way too long, so we’re going to do it differently this year. As each school’s testing results become available, we’re going to move that right into the design phase and try to get it to the work phase almost right away.”

Designing of remediation measures are projected to take place between Nov. 13 and Dec. 15.

The district has budgeted $110,000 of annual facilities grant money for testing and remediation in 2017-18, but it has also applied to the Ministry of Education for $360,000 of school enhancement program money, which would cover this year and next year’s testing, as well as provision of a water bottle fill station in schools that don’t have one. The ministry said it will examine the request only after it sees remediation plans, however.

Last year, testing resulted in installation of 28 automatic flush valves, six fountains with flush valves, three faucets and signage.

The district is expected to award a tender for testing Friday, Oct. 27.

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