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New Rochelle Schools Continue Investigating Lead In Water

After collecting hundreds of bottles of water for those in Flint, Michigan, New Rochelle is facing a water struggle of its own.
After collecting hundreds of bottles of water for those in Flint, Michigan, New Rochelle is facing a water struggle of its own. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Multiple fountains and sinks remain shuttered at George Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle this week after high levels of lead were found in the water.

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 at the Davis school tested above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level for lead in drinking water.

More extensive testing revealed that five drinking fountains in one wing of the school tested above the recommended level of 20 parts per billion. After flushing the lines, a second test showed that two fountains remained above the recommended level.

As a result, all Davis School drinking water sources have been closed as the district conducts more extensive testing. Five-gallon bottled water containers and alternate water sources have being provided to that area of the building in the interim.

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. The district's Environmental Services Department and environmental consultants are also working with the county to create sound procedures for testing the water districtwide on a regular basis.

“The county health department has reviewed the results of our sampling and has offered its engineering and lead expertise going forward,” 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.”

In a letter to parents, Galland noted that they are continuing to work with the county and SUEZ Water to rectify the situation and take steps so it doesn’t happen again.

“After learning of the results, and consulting with experts, we’ve decided that all drinking fountains in grade two through five classrooms and hallways, the cafeteria and outside of the gym doors will be reopened as water from those fountains are safe,” he stated. “Drinking fountains in kindergarten and first grade classrooms located along the main office hallway will remain shut. Students in those classes will continue to access seven water coolers in the hallway.”

“The district has initiated further study and testing of pipes located throughout classrooms located along the main office. (We) thank all of the parents for sending their children to school with water from home. It’s helped us conserve our bottled water and use less cups.”

Following the reports, the district consulted Philip Landrigan, the Dean for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Manhattan's Mount Sinai praised the district for being proactive after the reported issues in New Jersey.

"I commend the Board of Education and administration for having proactively initiated testing of water for lead in the schools shortly after it heard about the water contamination issues in Newark schools," he said in a statement.

"Parents should welcome what the district has done. This was the right thing to do, to curtail any exposure. As a medical professional, and based on my review of the reports, I see no need for blood lead testing of children."

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