Following the discovery of lead in the water at McClymonds High School in August, water testing has begun throughout the entire Oakland Unified School District. Currently, 13 additional schools in the district have been reported to have lead in their water.
At a school board meeting on November 8, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell read from a statement regarding the status of lead of Oakland schools. “In August 2017, water safety concerns regarding the lead levels of water at McClymonds High School were brought to my attention. After the district found elevated lead levels at McClymonds, we made the decision to conduct an internal process to test drinking water at each district-run schools, charter schools, and all early childhood education centers,” she said. “The cases in which one or more water sources were found to have an elevated lead level the source, whether it was a fountainhead or faucet, has been immediately taken out of service for replacement.”
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Division of Drinking Water provides instructions to schools for how to prepare for the testing. To begin, an administrator must select up to five water sources to test. Both exterior and interior filtered water sources, including water taps that run in playgrounds, classrooms, hallways and cafeterias, must be selected for testing. The samples are collected Tuesday through Friday morning during school hours and must fill a 1-liter plastic bottle.
According to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), lead levels over 15 parts per billion are considered dangerous. If any samples from the schools indicate a dangerous amount of lead, the sample is repeated and retested within 10 days. Solutions for fixing the lead levels include removing the source of the lead or replacing the plumbing fixtures.
So far, 144 schools in the district have conducted lead testing. According to the OUSD Consumable Water Lead testing Schedule and Results webpage, Thornhill Elementary School, Brookfield Elementary School and Glenview Elementary School (at Santa Fe) have fixed the lead sources found at those schools.
According to the same webpage, Fruitvale Elementary School, Edna Brewer Middle School, and East Oakland Pride Elementary School are among the 10 schools waiting for solutions. As of December 11, over 30 schools were awaiting testing results from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For a list of updated lead testing results at Oakland schools, you can visit: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1B_dpwAbqxAUwD8NmKXtlvJIKX6Bpnsxf7t4Td8czLmw/edit#gid=0.