District talks next steps after positive lead results


Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2023 4:30 PM

The Concord School District will be busy this summer addressing results from water testing, which found that 17% of the faucets in five schools tested above the allowable limit for lead.

At Monday night’s Concord School Board meeting, Matt Cashman, Director of Facilities and Planning for the school district, discussed lead in the drinking water at Broken Ground School, Beaver Meadow School, Christa McAuliffe School, Mill Brook School and Rundlett Middle School. No faucet at Abbot Downing school tested above the 5 parts per billion threshold. Concord High School has yet to be tested.

Of the 172 samples taken from the five schools, all but four tested below the federal Environmental Protection Agency limit of 15 ppb. Two of the highest samples, however, had lead levels reaching 96 and 146 parts per billion.

“We have to test any faucet that could be available for drinking water,” said Cashman. This includes faucets that are not explicitly intended for drinking water, such as a sink in a classroom used for arts and crafts.

After the school has each faucet tested, the results, which come back within a few weeks, determine the next steps.

Those water samples that tested at or above 5 parts per billion are subject to a second round of testing called “investigative sampling.” In the meantime, the faucets in question are shut off and families are notified.

After the second round of testing is complete and results come back, facilities and planning staff must determine which of three scenarios comes next: remove the faucet entirely from the property, replace the fixture, or re-purpose the faucet to be used solely for hand-washing purposes.

The Concord School District is planning to have all of this testing complete by the end of June or early July. They are required by law to conduct another round of testing by the end of June 2024.

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Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Murphy said during the board presentation that in New Hampshire most lead poisoning is due to paint, not water.

“That’s fine,” said Jim Richards, chair of the board. “But don’t get too complacent.” Richards is among the many parents who are disturbed by the district’s discovery of lead in the schools’ water.

There are a few preventative measures recommended by the Department of Environmental Services. Running water for 15 to 30 seconds before  using it can help flush out potentially dangerous particles. Additionally, families should test their own water supplies, too.

“It’s very critical for parents and guardians to be checking their faucets at home,” said Cashman.