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Elevated lead levels prompt replacement of entire water system at Springfield school

"Additional investigation revealed that a complete replacement of the water system at Page Elementary would be required to provide safe water to students, staff and visitors," Brett Yancey, chief operations officer, wrote in a letter to families. (SBG/Anthony Kustura)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The school district plans to replace the entire water system in one of its elementary school after tests found elevated levels of lead in water samples.

The Springfield School District conducted comprehensive lead testing at the end of June, with a price tag of $3,000.

"Additional investigation revealed that a complete replacement of the water system at Page Elementary would be required to provide safe water to students, staff and visitors," Brett Yancey, chief operations officer, wrote in a letter to families. (Scroll down to read the entire text of the letter).

The Page Elementary building was constructed in 1953 with the water system below ground, which likely contributing to the lead levels, according to the district.

Springfield schools will also replace all fixtures within the 63-year-old building as well.

With the water system overhaul, the district says future repairs will be made simpler.

"A project bid has been posted for contractors with an estimated completion timeline of prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year this September," Yancey wrote. "If for any reason the project is not completed Springfield Public Schools will provide bottled water to the school."

The work comes with an estimated cost of $100,000.

The district says the money will not come from the school bond funds. Instead, the district will ask for contingency funds from the school board August 8.

"Overall we are in a lot better shape than a lot of other school districts across the state. It could have been much worse," said Jenna McCulley, Springfield schools spokesperson.

Tests also found problems in a fixture that it no longer used at Brattain Early Learning Center.

The district replaced the fixture at Brattain.

The district last tested the water in 2002.

Letter to Page Elementary families

July 26, 2016
Dear Page Elementary families,
Springfield Public Schools takes the responsibility of the health and well being of our students and staff as a top priority. As you may know Springfield joins district across Oregon in ensuring our students and staff have access to healthy water sources while at school.
Shortly before the end of the year we shared that the district would be voluntarily testing water systems at all of our district owned facilities, today I reach out to let you know a water sample from classrooms 1 – 9 (the west wing), at Page Elementary returned elevated lead levels after sitting overnight or longer.
SPS facilities staff immediately shut off the water, and began to thoroughly investigate, identify and begin corrective action to ensure the water is at safe levels. Additional investigation revealed that a complete replacement of the water system at Page Elementary would be required to provide safe water to students, staff and visitors. A project bid has been posted for contractors with an estimated completion timeline of prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year this September. If for any reason the project is not completed Springfield Public Schools will provide bottled water to the school. The estimated cost of the project will likely be around $100,000 that, upon approval from the School Board of Education, will come from contingency funds and will not be paid for by School Bond funds.
Lead in water is a concern because high lead levels can contribute to negative health effects, especially for pregnant women, infants, and young children under 6-years-old. If you have any concerns about lead exposure, please contact your healthcare provider. We will be sure to keep you updated as we learn more. For more information about lead, one good source is www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead.
Sincerely,
Brett Yancey
Chief Operations Officer
Springfield Public Schools


Letter to Springfield families

July 26, 2016
Dear Springfield Families,
Springfield Public Schools takes the responsibility of the health and wellbeing of our students and staff as a top priority. As you may know Springfield joins districts across Oregon in ensuring our students and staff have access to healthy water while at schools.
Shortly before the end of the year we shared that the district would be voluntarily testing the water systems at all of our district owned facilities. Today I reach out to let you know the results are in and all but two locations have returned safe results as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Only two locations revealed elevated lead levels:
• Brattain Early Learning Center, a rarely used fixture
• Page Elementary School, classrooms 1-9 (west wing)
SPS staff immediately shut off the water to the affected locations and did a thorough investigation into their cause. The fixture at Brattain Early Learning Center was replaced, the water retested and found to be within healthy limits.
The solution for Page Elementary will require the replacement of the antiquated water system. This replacement will not be funded with school bond dollars and is estimated to be completed prior to the return of school this fall. In the event the project is not completed bottled water will be provided to students, staff and visitors.
Lead in water is a concern because high lead levels can contribute to negative health effects, especially for pregnant women, infants, and young children under 6-years-old. If you have any concerns about lead exposure, please contact your healthcare provider. We will be sure to keep you updated as we learn more. For more information about lead, one good source is www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Sincerely,
Brett Yancey
Chief Operations Officer
Springfield Public Schools

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