Tests reveal lead in school district water


Photo Credit: Julia Rooney

Temporarily shut down, the sink in the middle school faculty room was one of four that tested positive for lead.

Several students and parents in the Glen Rock district became worried over the results of recent water tests, which showed lead present in some of the school district’s water supply.

The water in question, which comes from Ridgewood Water, has been through multiple tests in recent months. At first, the water appeared normal and healthy. Once the second test was conducted, however, the Buildings and Grounds Department received different results.

On March 23rd a test was done to the water lines located in Glen Rock public schools. The testing is done by taking a one liter sample of water from each line, and comparing it to the Public Water Suppliers.The test, which was conducted by Garden State Labs, was to ensure the water did not contain harmful substances, such as lead and copper.

Four of the 100 samples tested in the Glen Rock school district exceeded standards.

On April 28, Valenti released a letter that explained the situation to the parents of Glen Rock students.

“Of the 100 samples,” Valenti said in her letter, “four exceeded one of both standards.”

For water to be considered safe, it must meet standards set by Public Water Supplies and Schools and Child Care Facilities. This standard is 15 parts per billion. Public Water Supplies’ standards include no more than 15 parts per billion — a unit used to measure the amount of material in water — for a one-liter sample. Schools and Child Care Facilities standards show no more than 20 ppb for a 250-milliter sample.

Although nobody is sure of what caused the contamination of the water, Valenti said that it may be due to the old age of the pipes in which the water runs through.

“Part of the problem may be due to the age of the buildings,” Valenti said. “I think most of the industrial water piping under the grounds are metal.”

This test came just a month after Valenti, as well as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Ms. Sandy Marinos, conducted a test at Agra Environmental. These tests, despite coming just a month before the positive test in March, found that all the water was within both standards.

This test is regularly done to determine that the water is safe for consumption. If contaminates are found, tests are done more frequently.

“We took initiative based upon what was going on in the news,” Valenti said regarding the February test. “We had a parent who inquired and we felt the inquiry was worthy. We took the initiative on our own to implement some of our own test.”

After the March test, four of the samples taken were not considered safe. In three of the four elementary schools, at least one water supply line or sink did not meet the requirement.

Valenti closed down the contaminated water supplies at Coleman, Byrd, Central, and the middle school. The two contaminated bubblers at Coleman and Central School were replaced by water coolers ( as well as bottled water) in order to avoid the lead-positive bubblers.

In order to follow EPA protocol, the water had to be sent for an additional test on May 3, 2016. This test, being done at McCabe Environmental, could show a reduction, or perhaps a disappearance, of the lead in all contaminated samples.

“I’m hoping that the test comes back with a safe reading,” Valenti said. “That would be my hope, but I don’t know what to expect given that we had some high levels in certain places.”