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FFMS - Lead In Water Test Results

Dear Felix Festa Middle School Staff, Parents and Guardians: 

As you may be aware, lead testing was performed throughout all District buildings in 2016 based on guidance issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on water testing in schools, 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools. Water outlets at that time that exceeded the maximum recommended threshold of 15 parts per billion (ppb) were remediated or removed from service. 

The District has recently retested water outlets  at all schools for lead, focusing on internal plumbing and fixtures, in accordance with the new New York State Department of Health Testing in School Drinking Water Program Guidance Manual. I am writing today to provide some background on our current actions, share the results of the recent water sampling tests specifically for Felix Festa Middle School and give an overview of our next steps.

SUEZ Water is the District’s water supplier and supplies water to most of the homes in our community. Pursuant to discussions with the Rockland County Department of Health, there is no indication that this source of water contributes to lead levels within our schools. 

Please note that since March 13, 2020, the District has undertaken a number of COVID-19 mitigation actions that have resulted in the reduced use or lack of use of several water outlets throughout the District;

  • March 2020-September 2020 / No students and staff at school buildings 
  • September 29, 2020 - present 
  • All water fountains closed for the entirety of 2020-2021 school year
  • Bathroom sinks taken out of use to enable social distancing for the entirety of 2020-2021 school year. 
  • Reduced usage of water outlets due to the high number of remote instruction students 

To facilitate the test program, the District engaged Adelaide Environmental Health Associates, Inc., who performed lead testing in 2016, and is a leading expert in water quality testing. Adelaide assisted the District in developing the plan, and implemented all testing using an environmental laboratory certified by the NYSDOH Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP).

Key components of the District’s plan: 

  • Determine the Scope - Sample testing in all school buildings 
  • Identify Sampling Locations - based on NYSDOH Lead Testing in School Drinking Water Program Guidance Manual
    • Sample all drinking fountains; kitchen sinks; classroom combination sinks and drinking fountains; home economic room sinks; teacher's lounge sinks; nurse's office sinks; classroom sinks in special education classrooms; bathroom sinks; and any water source known to be or visibly used for consumption (for example, coffee maker or cups are nearby)
  • Identify Testing Protocol - “first draw” samples, which are designed to represent a reasonable “worst case” for potential exposure to lead 
  • Identify and put in place corrective action plans for any water outlet that does not meet the NYSDOH recommended standard, which is a lead level above 15 ppb 

Results 

As a result of the above process, 205 water outlets at Felix Festa Middle School were identified for “first draw” testing. Sampling took place on May 8, 2021. 

The water outlets that exceeded the 15 ppb standard are listed below. 

Please note that since September 2020, all water fountains have been off-line as a COVID-19 mitigation action. Test results that exceed the 15 ppb were not unexpected due to the lack of use of the fountains.  Fresh drinking water has been provided using filtered water bottle fillers.  

A Wing:

FFA-008: First Floor Hallway by Psychologist Office Fountain - 45.1 ppb

B Wing:

FFB-11: Cafeteria Behind Counter Wall 1 Sink 1 - 31.1 ppb   

FFB-17: 2nd Cafeteria Wall 1 Water Fountain 1 (Right) - 39.7 ppb

FFB-18: 2nd Cafeteria Wall 1 Water Fountain 2 (Left) - 36.5 ppb

FFB-19: Room B106 Wall 4 Water Fountain 1 - 62.6 ppb

FFB-22: Room B105 Wall 3 Water Fountain 1 - 15.6 ppb

FFB-40: Space 1043 Wall 3 Sink 1 - 137 ppb

FFB-67: Girl’s Locker Room Trainer Room Wall 2 Sink 1 - 46.1 ppb

C Wing:

FFC-17: 1st Floor Main Office Work Room C Wall 2 Sink - 15.4 ppb 

D Wing:

FFD-10: 1st Floor Boys Room Wall 2 Sink 1 - 15.9 ppb

FFD-16: 2nd Floor Hallway Wall 2 Water Fountain - 20.9 ppb

FFD-17: 2nd Floor Hallway Wall 2 Water Fountain - 116 ppb

FFD-18: 2nd Floor Girls Room Wall 4 Sink 1 (Left) - 16.8 ppb

FFD-19: 2nd Floor Girls Room Wall 4 Sink 2 (Middle Left) - 17.4 ppb

FFD-20:  2nd Floor Girls Room Wall 4 Sink 3 (Middle Right) - 230 ppb 

E Wing:

FFE-2: 1st Floor Room E-102 Wall 1 Water Fountain - 52.3 ppb

FFE-3: 1st Floor Girls Bathroom Wall 3 Sink 1 - 19.1 ppb

FFE-21: Ground Floor Boys Instructor 3 Bathroom Wall 3 Sink - 21.5 ppb 

All of these sinks listed had been labeled following the 2016 testing with signs stating, “Do Not Drink from Sink.” All water fountains following the 2016 testing tested within acceptable levels.

Immediate Actions 

Based on the most recent finding, all 10 sinks were taken off-line to allow for further evaluation and remediation such as replacing the fixture or piping.  As all water fountains are off-line throughout the district, no immediate action is necessary. 

Next Steps

Following the remediation of the sinks, they will be retested and returned to service when the appropriate testing threshold is met.  The sinks will continue to be labeled with “Do Not Drink Water from Sink” signage.  

The water fountains will be remediated and retested, and will be returned to service upon compliant results and the lifting of COVID-19 protocols.

The health and safety of our students and staff members is always our primary concern.  

For comprehensive information relating to lead in water testing, please refer to the following informative resources. 

3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/3ts-reducing-lead-drinking-water-toolkit#:~:text=The%20goal%20of%203Ts%20testing,may%20include%20a%20remediation%20level.

New York State Department of Health Testing in School Drinking Water Program Guidance Manual

https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/lead/docs/LeadTestinginSchoolsGuidanceDocument.pdf

Suez Water Quality Reports

http://www.mysuezwater.com/water-in-my-area/water-quality-reports/10956.

Sincerely,


Martin D. Cox, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools