Manager of Buildings and Grounds
P: (585) 265-6585
The health and safety of Webster CSD’s students, faculty, and staff continue to remain our top priorities as we work to fulfill all aspects of the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH’s) water testing regulations. NYSDOH regulations require that all public schools and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) test lead levels in water from every outlet that is being used, or could potentially be used, for drinking or cooking. Test results must be at or below the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) and New York State’s acceptable level for lead in water of 15 parts per billion (ppb, equal to 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L). If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 ppb, the NYSDOH requires that the school take action to reduce the exposure to lead.
As we notified our families on March 29, Webster CSD began testing our buildings’ water outlets with assistance from LaBella Associates earlier this spring. This round of testing was originally scheduled for spring 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID pandemic.
In fall 2016, the newest “first draw” sampling process was mandated by NYSDOH and included the district identifying the total number of water outlets to be tested at each school. The “on-again, off-again” nature of water use at most schools can raise lead levels in school drinking water. Water that remains in pipes overnight, over a weekend, or over vacation periods stays in contact with lead pipes or lead solder and, as a result, could contain higher levels of lead. This is why schools are required to collect a sample after the water has been sitting in the plumbing system for a certain period of time. This first draw sample is likely to show higher levels of lead for that outlet than if sampled after continuously using the water. However, even if the first draw sample does not reflect what would be observed with continuous usage, it is still important because it can identify outlets that have elevated lead levels. As in 2016, the district’s 2021 samples were collected with a first draw method taken from an outlet where the water had been motionless in the pipes for a minimum of eight (8) hours, but not longer than 18 hours.
In Webster, 10 of our 11 schools were built before the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986, which required only lead-free materials be used in all new plumbing and plumbing repairs. However, lead can build up over time, especially as water sits in the pipes of sinks that are rarely used. It is in those sinks where a majority of the higher lead readings have been noted. I want to reassure you that both the NYS Department of Health and Monroe County Department of Health believe that school drinking water is not a significant source of lead.
It is important to note that 90% of the outlets tested in the district’s buildings were at or below the EPA/NYS recommended level of 15 ppb. Any of the first draw samples from water outlets which exceeded 15 ppb have been taken offline or labeled with a “non-potable water, not for drinking or cooking use” sign. Once repairs are made, and the outlet is retested with results under 15 ppb, the sign will be removed and the fixture will be placed back in use.
The district’s spring 2021 results, along with all previous results, are available below for your reference (file name = Water Testing Report 6-15-21). In the meantime, should you have any questions regarding the district’s water testing procedures, please contact WCSD Buildings & Grounds Manager Blaine Cunningham at 265-6585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.