Dear African Road Elementary and Vestal Middle School Community,
The Vestal Central School District’s highest priority is always the health and well-being of our students, staff and the community members who also utilize our facilities.
We wanted to apprise you of legislation recently signed by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo which mandates that all schools in the state test drinking water for lead contamination.
What Does This Mean for School Districts?
Pursuant to the legislation (S.8158/A.10740), the NYS Department of Health then issued emergency regulations requiring schools to take water samples by October 31, 2016. Test results must then be reported to parents, the state Department of Health and local government officials. As part of our commitment to providing a safe, secure environment for our students, we have complied with these newly released regulations.
All outlets currently or potentially used for drinking or cooking must be tested with a first-draw sample. In addition, beginning in the year 2020, the water tests are required to be repeated every five years.
District Water Sources
In the Vestal Central School District, the water source at African Road, Clayton Avenue, Glenwood and Vestal Hills Elementary Schools, Vestal Middle School and Vestal High School is the Town of Vestal Municipal Water. Tioga Hills Elementary School receives water from the Town of Owego. Previously, schools in New York were not required to test their drinking water for lead. However, in March 2016 we voluntarily conducted random-sample testing throughout the school district. This new legislation requires all school districts in the state to test potable water for lead contamination and to develop and implement a lead remediation plan where necessary.
New York State has set safe levels at 15 parts per billion. The EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) safe-level requirement is 20 parts per billion. At African Road Elementary School and the Vestal Middle School, 221 water outlets were tested, including those that are not used for drinking water. A total of 32 outlets showed an excess lead level above 15 ppb. Of those, 21 findings were from non-drinking locations, such as hose bibs and custodial wash sinks. The 11 other sources were from sinks in the science labs, tech room and art room.
Regardless of the source of the elevated lead levels, please be assured that any affected fixtures have been shut off and/or marked by signage to prevent use until all necessary repairs are made. We anticipate that the sink faucets will be remediated by November 11. The non-drinking fixtures will be replaced as necessary. Further testing will then take place to ensure that lead levels are within the normal range before the fixture or outlet is returned to use. We continue to work closely with our Broome-Tioga BOCES Safety Specialist and the Broome County Health Department to ensure that the water in all of our buildings is safe.
Once all testing in the district is complete, a copy of the district’s test results for each building will be available by visiting the home page of our website – www.vestal.stier.org. You will also find the district’s Lead Remediation Plan there.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call 607-757-2231. In addition, the results for Vestal Middle School are attached below.