AURORA | Aurora’s two public school districts have worked for the past school year to test every facility that serves students for possible lead contamination in the water. And while the vast majority of faucets and water fountains in both schools were clean, there were a few test results that required action.
Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School district both found a handful of faucets that tested positive for lead above a 15 parts per billion standard that both schools had set for testing, which remains below action levels of 20 ppb set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
While most incidents were not major, one school in Cherry Creek, Creekside Elementary School in Centennial, continued to test for higher levels of lead even after initial repairs, and had to use bottled water until major repairs were finished this year.
APS found two water faucets that were also being used as water fountains in classrooms that tested above the 15 ppb limit, but below the 20 ppb threshold.
Both school districts said, as soon as a test came back higher, the water from to those fixtures was shut off until repairs could be made. Cherry Creek has finished its repairs and APS should have repairs completed well before the start of the new school year.
“We haven’t had a big issue anywhere. At this point the sample analysis has indicated we have issues with specific fixtures,” said Rita Davis, APS’s environmental compliance manager. “None of the water fountains we tested came back above 15 (ppb).”
Amy Spatz, APS’s director of construction management and support, said while municipalities are required to test for water, testing inside buildings — including schools — isn’t a requirement. But after it became public that Flint, Michigan’s water had been poisoned with lead contamination, an issue that is still ongoing, Spatz said APS wanted to make sure its students were safe.
“We feel like what we were doing was making sure our schools are safe,” she said. “This was a great joint venture with the City of Aurora.
“With an exception for those fixtures that tested a little high, we feel very safe about the water our kids are drinking,” she added. “As we started getting into this, there wasn’t a set protocol for schools to follow. So we developed one with Aurora Water.”
Both school districts said the issues were due to soldering used on faucets installed before 1986, which is when government standards changed on lead use. That was the year Creekside in Centennial was constructed.