WILMINGTON — Efforts are underway in Twin Valley schools to lower lead levels in water taps.
“Each of the Twin Valley schools is taking the appropriate actions to remedy this situation and protect the health and safety of our students and staff,” Windham Southwest Supervisory Union officials said in a statement released to local reporters Monday afternoon. “All of the affected taps have been taken out of commission and signage has been put up over the affected fixtures to prevent consumption. Students and staff have been asked to use the school’s new water bottle fillers which provide filtered water.”
Three out of 28 water taps at the elementary school in Wilmington exceed lead levels considered by the state to require remedial action, which is 4 parts per billion. At the middle/high school in Whitingham, 12 out of 64 taps exceed the level.
The Vermont Department of Health conducted tests at the schools in March. Last week, Twin Valley Middle High School Principal Anna Roth told families water testing was suspended after the department’s laboratory shifted its focus to coronavirus testing.
“All Vermont schools and childcare centers have been undergoing the same testing of their water since last January, due to Act 66, which went into effect in 2019,” Windham Southwest officials said. “According to the state of Vermont, 62 percent of all Vermont schools have results. Seventy-five percent of schools with results have at least one tap at or above the action level.”
Four out of the five Windham Southwest schools require action. Elementary schools in Readsboro and Stamford also need to lower their lead levels.
“We want the community to know that we are taking these test results very seriously and are taking all state mandated steps to rectify the situation,” Windham Southwest officials said. “Though Twin Valley’s test results will not be available to the public on leadresults.vermont.gov until sometime this week, the principals of the Twin Valley schools made the staff and parents aware of this issue as soon as the results became available to them.”
Act 66 required for the first time that all water taps and faucets in Vermont schools must be tested for lead, according to the statement.
“The Federal action level for lead is 15 ppb, but Vermont’s new Act 66 has a much lower acceptable level at 3 ppb,” Windham Southwest officials said. “Only one tap in Twin Valley schools tested above what is acceptable at the federal level and that tap had not been used by students for a long time.”
Officials said at Twin Valley Elementary School, the three taps requiring action tested just above the 3 ppb allowed under Vermont law. Those taps are anticipated to be replaced this week.
At Twin Valley Middle High School, nine taps tested higher than 3 ppb and were lower than the federal limit of 15 ppb. One fixture testing higher than the federal limit is located in an office and has not been used for drinking in many years, according to the statement.
Officials said three other sinks at the middle/high school are scheduled for replacement.
“Of the five older water fountains, three are being removed completely and two are being replaced with new bottle filler/fountain fixtures,” officials said. “The state will help fund replacement costs at approximately $350 per tap and $1,800 per fountain. We do not anticipate the remaining costs related to installation to be very high.”