Beginning in the fall of 2016, the Harlem School District has worked with the North Park Water District to test elementary schools for the levels of lead in drinking fountains, sinks and other water sources. We initially tested several water sources from each elementary school in an effort to be proactive in this matter. The Environmental Protection Agency states that water that is 15 parts per billion or higher requires action. We responded by immediately shutting off any fixtures that test at or above that threshold. These water fixtures were replaced.
On January 16th, after we conducted our initial testing, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill (SB550) that requires all elementary schools and daycare centers to have all water sources used for drinking and cooking be tested for lead. The new law requires school districts to notify parents of any water source that tests at 5 parts per billion or above.
Following the signing of the bill, we re-tested all sources tested in our preliminary testing phase in addition to all remaining water sources used for drinking and cooking at the elementary schools. Once we received the results from these tests, we notified parents of the results and our action plan pertaining to their student’s school.
All fixtures that tested above the 15 ppb threshold stated by the EPA were immediately shut-off and replaced. The next steps are to work toward replacing any fixtures with detected lead levels.
In the fall of the 2017, we will voluntarily begin using the same process for testing at our secondary schools. While the law only requires elementary buildings to be tested, we feel it is important to take proactive measures to keep our children safe.