CMSD replacing dangerous lead plumbing in old schools

CMSD addressing plumbing lead dangers

CLEVELAND - Cleveland schools are working hard to get the lead out.

Thorough testing of buildings constructed before 2002 has disclosed dangerous levels of lead in 60 schools.

That number's been reduced to 34 by subsequent testing.

Sheraina Williams' twin 5-year-old daughters attend pre-kindergarten at Wilbur Wright School. About 340 other students do too.

"I definitely don't want my kids drinking water if there's lead in there and I hope they take this seriously," she said.

Schools are.

They began proactive testing of plumbing and faucets in old  school buildings in the wake of lead concerns spotlighted by the water crisis in Flint.

No law required such testing.

"We wanted to be out ahead of this, so no one was coming to us and saying 'why aren't you doing this?' " said Patrick Zohn, the district's chief operating officer.

A first round of tests over the summer found 60 of 65 older schools with issues.

RELATED | Tests show high lead levels in water at 60 Cleveland schools

Newer schools tested did not have problems.

Schools being tested have had faucets and fixtures shut off, with students and staff  drinking Culligan bottled water.

One sink in Wilbur Wright Elementary had almost 300 times the 15 parts per billion level the EPA recognizes as excessive.

Wilbur Wright's principal Virmeal Finley said, "They are constantly getting their little cups and drinking water so they are fine," 

She claims there has been minimal concerns from parents. She is  remaining calm about possible risks in her school.

"I am not anxious. I'm glad the district decided to do this and be proactive. I would be worried if they had not done something," she said.

All CMSD parents got robo-calls and an explanatory letter updating the situation. Detailed school-by-school testing information is available on the district's website.

582 outlets remain at excessive levels after a second round of testing. 119 of those are sources of drinking water.

Zohn said that's about 9 percent of drinking water sources in impacted buildings.

Bottled water use will continue in buildings until complete repairs are made. Testing has cost about $400,000.

There's no price tag yet for repairing or replacing all problem outlets in the buildings.

22 of the schools involved are eventually slated to be replaced.

Zohn said no children are presently at risk.

The advice to concerned parents who had or have children in problem schools is to have your children tested for lead to be safe.

Testing will continue until repairs have eliminated the issue.

 


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