Fort Worth

Fort Worth ISD Finds Lead in School Drinking Water

How safe is the water your child drinks at school? That's what leaders in the Fort Worth ISD set out to learn and some of the results were surprising.

Twenty-eight out of 116 schools tested were found to have some unsafe lead levels. The district thinks it's a problem with how long the water was sitting over the summer. So they don't think it affected kids during the school year.

But to be safe they're now taking out, or turning off, every potentially contaminated source.

The summer is winding down and while teachers are getting classrooms ready, there's a different back-to school project going on in the hallways.

Fort Worth ISD is replacing 500 water fountains that are up to 30 years old and have a risk of lead contamination when left sitting, like during summer break.

"If the water sits in the pipe for a long time and is not flushed on a regular basis, then the scale starts to deteriorate and then the metal can leach into the water," said Fort Worth ISD Spokesperson Clint Bond.

Testing of drinking water at Fort Worth ISD schools in June and July revealed lead levels exceeding recommended Environmental Protection Agency levels — 20 parts per billion — in dozens of areas.

District leaders decided to test for lead this year because of increased attention after the disaster in Flint, Michigan.

"This is an issue that is about the safety of children," said Bond.

They found that 28 of 116 schools tested had unsafe readings in as many as three fountains or faucets.

"It's not that we have any schools in our district that are completely contaminated with lead," said Bond.

Most were minor but a few are way too high. One rarely-used faucet was more than four times the recommended limit. The district thinks that reading was faulty because the system hadn't been flushed beforehand.

District Chief of Operations Art Cavazos said many of the issues were found in older water fixtures and fountains. Flushing the lines returned most locations to more acceptable levels, according to a district release.

"We have begun a program of removing and replacing those fixtures across the district," he said. "Our subsequent sampling has shown this to be an effective measure to return lead levels to below the recommended EPA action levels."

In the biggest change going forward, FWISD custodians will now flush the system every morning, to be sure there's fresh water flowing when students start pouring back in to school.

NBC 5 also checked with other big districts in the area. Arlington ISD just started their own testing on Wednesday and Richardson ISD says they're working on a testing plan. We'll keep you posted on those results.

Plano ISD says it started taking random samples this past year and all results have been within EPA-recommended guidelines. That testing will be repeated throughout the coming school year.

If you're worried about your child, you can take them to the doctor for a blood test for lead. Check out the link below for a school-by-school breakdown for Fort Worth ISD.

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FWISD-Testing-Results-as-of-July-29-2016 (PDF)
FWISD-Testing-Results-as-of-July-29-2016 (Text)

Online: Fort Worth ISD Water Testing Program

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