Nanaimo District Parent Advisory Council hopes the school district takes further action to ensure safe drinking water for students after lead was found in some schools’ drinking water.
Last December, as per a B.C. Ministry of Education directive, the district tested a number of schools built before 1990 and Nanaimo District and John Barsby secondary and École Hammond Bay, École North Oyster, Pleasant Valley, Rock City, Bayview, Chase River and Fairview elementary schools all had lead counts above the acceptable 10 micrograms per litre on initial sampling. Lead content diminished as lines were flushed.
NDSS and Barsby, which had water samples failing after five minutes, saw faucet replacement and installation of auto-flush valves and new fountains, however Charlene McKay, council president, wrote the school board asking for at least one water fill station be installed at all schools not equipped with one.
“Our membership collectively believes that the installation of fill stations in each school ensures that our students will have access to clean drinking water year round and between testing time frames,” wrote McKay. “In fact, testing of water fill stations that had not had a recent filter change still passed the lead concentration test, effectively assuring clean drinking water.”
The district is mandated to test one third of pre-1990 schools each year and while signs have been placed in yet-to-be tested schools, McKay said testing should be a priority and all schools should be examined and mitigation in place before September.
“We respect that there are a number of large-scale projects and annual maintenance to be done in the summer months, but believe water testing speaks to an aspect of student safety and should be prioritized as such,” said McKay.
Dale Burgos, school district spokesman, said mitigation at schools tested in December was completed earlier in May. The board directed staff to respond to McKay’s letter and Burgos said district staff are looking into if whether the request is achievable.
“We are alerted that a letter like this had come in, but we always have to wait until the board decides what they want to do and then we move forward,” said Burgos.