It is a priority of every school district to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment for its students, and clean water is no exception. In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2% lead and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials. Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like groundwater, rivers, and lakes. New laws that went into effect in 2014 reduced the amount of lead that plumbing fixtures can contain from 8% to less than 1%. Brass faucets, fittings and valves – including those advertised as “lead free” – may still contribute lead to drinking water.
Ripley Central School District is in compliance with New York State Public Health Laws requiring all schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to test potable water outlets for lead contamination, to remediate contamination where found, and to notify parents of children and the public of test results. Levels of lead at any water outlet above 15 parts per billion (ppb) require action to remediate this issue.
On September 29, as required, Ripley Central School District tested water sources for lead that could be used for drinking or cooking and also restroom sinks. As provided to us under specific protocols, first draw water samples in every building were taken after letting the water remain unmoving in the pipes over a period of 8 to 18 hours. We contracted with Stohl Environmental of Buffalo to undertake the comprehensive study. They confirmed all locations to be tested, drew the water, tested the water, and provided a comprehensive report. Ripley Central School District has reported the results to the New York State Department of Health. The Chautauqua County Department of Health has directed us in required remediation.
The complete results of this testing were received on Monday, November 28. Of the 116 compliance samples tested, 25 showed lead levels above the 15 ppb mark.
Listed below are the compliance samples that exceeded the threshold of 15 ppb:
Bus Garage (4 compliance samples, 3 below the action threshold, 1 above 15 ppb):
Drivers’ room sink
Baseball Building (2 compliance samples, 1 below the action threshold, 1 above 15 ppb):
North restroom sink
Softball Building (2 compliance samples, zero below the action threshold, 2 above 15 ppb):
Elementary School Building (108 compliance samples, 87 below the action threshold, 21 above 15 ppb):
9 classroom sinks
11 restroom sinks
All the above locations at which exceedances were identified have been taken out of service, except restroom sinks, where signage has been posted. This remediation plan was guided by experts in the field of water remediation, as advised by the Chautauqua County Department of Health.
Additional remediation will be undertaken to reduce lead levels at all fixtures that exceeded the action level. The timetable for any additional remediation will depend on the process for retesting and the availability of parts and installation. It is important to note that none of the sources will be put back into service and available for drinking until the sources are fully mitigated and meet New York State Department of Health Standards.
A copy of our water testing results is available in the office of District Clerk Victoria Carris from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Complete results are linked below, along with the letter sent to parents/guardians on Monday, December 12th and a detailed spreadsheet will be added later this month.
We also collected samples from an additional 58 fixtures that are not used for drinking water and therefore did not require sampling. These included samples from outside hose bibs and laboratory sinks. These samples were not required to be reported, but they are included in the results posted on our website and will be identified with an asterisk (*) on the spreadsheet. For more information about water quality and sampling for lead, contact the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services at 753-4000.