Twin Valley seeks lower lead levels in water

Some water taps were taken offline at Twin Valley Middle High School after tests show elevated levels of lead.

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WHITINGHAM — Water taps were taken offline at Twin Valley Middle High School until they have lower lead levels.

"We take our responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for the children and staff seriously," Principal Anna Roth said Tuesday in a letter sent to parents, guardians and school staff. "We are working on fixes to permanently lower levels of lead in the water."

Water samples from every tap at the school "reasonably expected" to be used for drinking or cooking were collected in February and sent to the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory for analysis in compliance with a law passed last year in Vermont requiring all schools and child care providers to test for lead in drinking water, according to the letter. Roth said when the lab turned its focus to COVID-19 tests, the water testing was suspended.

Results for the middle and high school returned Monday showed one or more of the taps had a lead level at or above 4 parts per billion action level. Any tap above that threshold was "immediately taken out of service for drinking or cooking," Roth wrote. She noted lead exposure poses a special risk to children since they absorb the chemical into their systems more easily than adults.

"Lead can slow down growth, impair development and learning, and can cause behavior problems," she wrote. "While the major source of lead poisoning in Vermont children is paint, lead in plumbing pipes and fixtures can add to a person's overall exposure. Drinking water in schools and homes may contain lead from old pipes, plumbing fixtures (such as fountains and faucets), or the solder that joins pipe sections together."

School officials told the Reformer they plan to provide more information early next week.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.