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CHSS Lead In Water Testing

June 29, 2021

Dear South High 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 South High 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 

As a result of the above process, 122 water outlets at South High School were identified for “first draw” testing.

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.

1-SHS-08 1st Floor/Auditorium/Girl’s Dressing Room/Wall 3 Sink 1 - 30.6 ppb
1-SHS-11 1st Floor/Auditorium/Boy’s Dressing Room/Wall 3 Sink 1 - 60.9 ppb
1-SHS-23 1st Floor/Girl’s Locker Room/Wall 1 Sink 2 - 38.5 ppb
1-SHS-62 2nd Floor/Additional Bathroom in Women’s/Wall 3 Sink 1 - 22.2 ppb
1-SHS-65 2nd Floor/Women’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 3 - 20.6  ppb
1-SHS-66 2nd Floor/Women’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 4 - 23.3 ppb
1-SHS-74 3rd Floor/Men’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 3 - 23.0 ppb
1-SHS-78 3rd Floor/Women’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 2 - 18.0 ppb
1-SHS-79 3rd Floor/Women’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 3 - 22.3 ppb
1-SHS-80 3rd Floor/Women’s Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 4 - 82.7 ppb
2-SHS-19 1st Floor/Room 145/Wall 1 Sink 1 - 57.6 ppb
2-SHS-20 1st Floor/Room 145/Wall 1 Sink 2 - 15.3 ppb
2-SHS-26 1st Floor/Men’s Faculty Bathroom/Wall 2 Sink 2 - 17.1 ppb
2-SHS-46 1st Floor/Kitchen/Wall 1 Pot Filler 1 - 72.0 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 

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

Suez Water Quality Reports


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