NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - With schools set to open their doors to students again on Wednesday, several fountains and sinks will be shuttered in New Rochelle after lead was found in water sources.
Following reported media stories of elevated lead levels in New Jersey schools recently, New Rochelle officials voluntarily opted to test the district’s water, which showed that some water samples tested above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level for lead in drinking water.
Last year, several water fountains had to be closed at the George Davis Elementary School after additional voluntary testing, prompting a district-wide sweep.
As a result, the district chose to voluntarily test more than 200 water sources in six schools early in the summer. In total, 19 samples exceeded 15 parts per billion of lead on the initial testing. Eight samples tested positive after the lines were flushed for 30 seconds. Those sources have been shut down and the district is providing alternate water sources for teachers and students.
"The voluntary testing was not required by law, but the district wanted to take definitive steps to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff and teachers," Superintendent Brian Osborne said. The next round of testing will be conducted at Isaac E. Young MIddle School, Albert Leonard Middle School and the New Rochelle High School.
According to district officials, they reached out to Westchester County of Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler to ensure that the water is safe for students and staff after lead was discovered at Davis last spring.
“The county health department reviewed the results of our sampling and offered its engineering and lead expertise,” the administration said in a statement. “We are working closely together with the health department to determine what further sampling should occur and what further action should be taken to identify drinking water fountains and other faucets that should be replaced or no longer used in accordance with USEPA recommendations to minimize lead in drinking water at schools."