Following the much-publicized lead poising crisis in Flint, Michigan in 2014, caused by the city’s decision to change the source of its drinking water as a cost-cutting measure, the Washington State Legislature responded in 2017 by creating a partnership between the Washington State Department of Health and school districts throughout the state to test schools for possible lead contamination.

In order to prevent a similar situation as that of Flint, the Eatonville School District recently completed testing at all three elementary schools in the district.

“Samples of all taps and drinking fountains that could potentially be utilized by students and staff for consumption were tested at Columbia Crest A-STEM Academy (CCA), Eatonville Elementary School (EES), and Weyerhaeuser Elementary School (WES),” stated Superintendent Krestin Bahr in a recent letter to parents.

Of the 114 fixtures tested between the three schools, the results indicated that “three fixtures at CCA, zero fixtures at EES and one fixture at WES had lead levels above 20 parts per billion (ppb), which is above the federal guidelines,” according to Bahr’s letter.

As a result, all fixtures showing elevated lead levels were immediately taken out of service and alternative water sources were provided to students and staff. The school district is also “working closely with the (Department of Health) to develop a permanent remediation plan,” Bahr stated.

Lead poisoning has been shown to cause serious harm to the body – particularly for children six and under who are most susceptible to its effects. As listed on the Department of Health’s website, these include:

Permanent damage to the brain and nervous system leading to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, and hearing problems.

Slowed growth

Anemia

The site also stated, “in rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”

The school district is confident that its ongoing remediation efforts will be sufficient to protect students and staff. Similar testing at Eatonville Middle School and Eatonville High School are underway.

“Rest assured our water supply is safe for use,” Bahr affirmed.

Water testing results for a child’s school can be obtained from the school district’s Maintenance and Operations Department. For further information on school water quality, contact John Fisher at (360)879-5501.