READSBORO — At Readsboro Central School, 13 out of 16 waters exceeded lead levels requiring remedial action by state law.
“We want the community to know that we are taking these test results seriously and are taking all state-mandated steps to rectify Readsboro’s taps,” officials from the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union said in a statement. “In total, eight taps in Readsboro School tested above what is acceptable at the federal level. Many of the sinks with the higher numbers had not been used in some time and in fact it was noted that in the case of a couple of sinks there were books or other impediments in the sinks making it impossible to use them. The hallway water fountain, bottle filler, and pre-k room were the places where the three fixtures fell below the limits.”
The officials said actions are being taken to remedy the issue, and protect the health and safety of of students and staff.
“All of the affected taps have been taken out of commission and signage has been put up over the affected fixtures to prevent consumption,” they said. Students “have been given bottled or filtered water to drink and they are currently cooking with bottled water until the appropriate filters can be installed.”
Readsboro Central provides student meals for Halifax Elementary, according to the statement. Officials said for food preparation areas, “all necessary precautions are being taken to make sure the water is safe.”
Students and staff in Readsboro are being asked to use the school’s new water bottle fillers, which provide filtered water. Officials said test results indicate that lead solder or pipes with higher lead content are in the building.
“Readsboro is working with the state to install with the fixture replacements water filters that specifically remove lead,” they said. “These are simple devices in the classrooms that provide filtered water and provide unfiltered water for handwashing. The kitchen needs a little bigger and higher flow filter for water to cook with and Readsboro is working to replace those as well.”
The state will reimburse $350 for each sink fixture, $650 per kitchen fixture, and $1,800 per fountain, according to the statement. Officials said the fountain and kitchen fixtures could require some additional funds for equipment costs.
Halifax Elementary’s 15 taps passed testing without requiring any action. The school is part of the Southern Valley Unified School District, although work is underway for the two schools to return to having separate districts governed by boards in their own communities.
The Vermont Department of Health conducted tests on taps back in March. Results were delayed due to coronavirus testing at the department’s laboratory, according to a letter from Twin Valley Middle High School Principal Anna Roth.
Taps in schools requiring action in Vermont have lead levels that exceed or are at 4 parts per billion.
“Halifax School had been testing its water monthly because they use well water,” officials said in the statement. “They noticed some abnormalities three years ago and at that time replaced faucets in all of their classrooms upon the recommendation of the state.”
The officials said all Vermont schools and childcare centers have been undergoing similar water testing due to Act 66, which went into effect in 2019. They pointed out 62 percent of Vermont schools received results and 75 percent of them have at least one tap at or above the action level.
In Windham Southwest, Twin Valley’s elementary and middle/high schools, and Stamford Elementary also require action. Information is available at leadresults.vermont.gov/.