Water being retested at Tacoma schools after ‘higher than acceptable’ levels of lead discovered

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TACOMA — Students are being provided bottled water at two Tacoma elementary schools after officials discovered unreviewed tests from last year showed higher than acceptable levels of lead.

Tacoma Public Schools discovered late Friday that test results from May 2015 showed higher than normal levels of lead in the water at Mann and Reed Elementary Schools. The levels were higher than 15 ppb which is the action alert level as mandated by the EPA, officials said.

Dave Wilkins, a spokesman for the district, said t wasn’t immediately known why earlier action was not taken on the test results, which found “higher than accepted” levels of lead.

Drinking fountains and faucets have been restricted at the schools and bottled water is being provided to students, staff and visitors.

Officials pulled new samples over the weekend but those test results are not yet available.

Tacoma Public Schools notified parents Monday morning.

This is a developing story and will be updated. Follow Q13 News reporter Steve Kiggins for updates.

Data pix.

Here is the message from Tacoma Public Schools:

Water quality message to Reed/Mann staffs

The public attention on lead found in some Tacoma homes last week caused the district to review water testing records.

Tacoma Public Schools contracts for tests of water supplies at several elementary schools each year, on a rotational basis.

Late Friday night, this review uncovered two test reports from May 2015 that showed higher than acceptable levels of lead at Mann and Reed elementary schools. These reports had not previously been reviewed.

As a result, the district has taken the following steps:

  • Retested the water systems at both schools this weekend. We expect the results back soon.
  • Blocked access to drinking fountains.
  • Ordered bottled water for staff and student use at both schools to use indefinitely until the district can determine the quality of the water and take steps to fix any issues that are uncovered.

In addition, under the leadership of our Chief Operations Officer and our Assistant Superintendent for K-12 Support, for the safety of our students and staff members, the district will be conducting an immediate, complete audit of all past water quality test results, testing procedures, maintenance practices and communications to ensure – moving forward – there is a much better system in place.

As more information comes in about this issue, the district will provide more updates and information.

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