Water sources test above limit for lead at five Cherry Hill schools

District officials say nine water sources have tested above the Lead Action Level of 15 parts per billion. The district has completed testing at seven of 19 buildings so far this year.

Water sources at five Cherry Hill schools recently tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for lead, according to a report the school district released last Wednesday.

Cherry Hill district officials said nine water sources in five school buildings had recorded lead levels higher than the EPA limit of 15 parts per billion.

The school district released a letter and documents last Wednesday detailing lead testing done at seven school buildings so far in the 2016–17 school year.

In the district’s first round of testing, water sources tested above the state’s limit for lead at Woodcrest, Bret Harte, Horace Mann, Sharp and Johnson elementary schools. Stockton Elementary and the Malberg Administration Building were also tested, but did not have any water sources above the limit for lead.

In a letter sent to the school community, Superintendent Joe Meloche said the district is following state Department of Education regulations in dealing with the affected water sources. Action includes removing or capping the outlet.

In an email, Cherry Hill Public Schools Director of Facilities Tom Carter said the district has shut off all of the water sources testing higher than the EPA limit.

Carter added the water sources testing higher than the federal limit for lead does not have an effect on the other water sources in the same building, and all other water sources are safe to drink from.

“The water outlets that tested high were taken out of service,” Carter said in an email. “All other outlets tested below the threshold and are safe to use.”

Carter added concerned parents are encouraged to ask their health-care providers about testing children to determine levels of lead in their blood.

Cherry Hill Public Schools and every other district in New Jersey is required to test every water source in its school buildings during the 2016–17 school year. In July, the state Board of Education adopted regulations mandating all districts must test all of their water sources for lead prior to the end of the school year. Some of the tested water sources include all drinking water and food preparation outlets. The district is required to implement immediate remedial measures for any water source with lead above the Lead Action Level of 15 parts per billion.

The district still has to complete testing in 12 of its other buildings. The district has contracted Garden State Environmental to perform testing throughout the district. Carter gave some details of how the tests are performed.

“The water outlets are flushed at least eight hours before sampling takes place,” Carter said. “Sampling is being done by a qualified environmental company on days when the buildings are unoccupied, so little to no water is flowing through the systems. Samples are sent to an independent lab through the sampling company.”

Carter added all of the district’s buildings are scheduled for sampling by the end of 2016. When the test results are received, the district will publish them on its website. The reports include lead levels for every individual water source in each of the tested buildings.

To view the results of the first round of testing, visit http://www.chclc.org/departments/public-information/h20/results.