In March, as city officials in Flint, Mich., were grappling with a city water supply contaminated by lead, high levels of lead were found in the water at 30 Newark schools. With six school buildings that are more than 60 years old, the Verona Board of Education decided to conduct voluntary tests of the water in our schools. This morning, Superintendent Rui Dionisio delivered the results of those tests to school parents by email.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Our primary concern is the safety and well being of all of our students. The Verona Public Schools has taken a proactive approach regarding testing for the safety of lead levels in our school drinking water. The district collected samples from drinking sources in each of our six schools on April 8th in coordination with the Verona Township. Lead water testing was completed by Aqua Pro Tech Laboratories in Fairfield, NJ. A random sample of thirty (30) fixtures across the entire district were collected that included water fountains, kitchen sinks (where food may be prepared), and classroom sinks.
The district received the results of this testing on Friday, April 22nd. Of the thirty (30) fixtures tested, twenty-nine (29) fixtures were identified to be safe for drinking as established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The results identified one (1) tested fixture above permissible levels for safe drinking water. This fixture was a classroom sink, not a water fountain, located at Laning Avenue School. As a result, the district immediately shut off the access to water to this fixture on Friday afternoon so the fixture cannot be used by any person. Furthermore, we collected an additional water sample at this fixture on April 23rd to certify the accuracy of the original test. We expect the results of this additional test by the laboratory in the next several days.
We have identified all of the water fountains in each school that have recently been tested and returned results of safe drinking water. These water fountains will be the only fixtures the district will permit students and staff to use. Any water fountain that has not been tested at this time will be shut off effective immediately as a precaution until results certifying the safety of the drinking water have been received.
On April 25th, the district will be continuing testing every water fountain and sink throughout the entire district. Children will only be permitted to drink from water fountains deemed safe by laboratory results.
Although there is no legal requirement for school districts to test for lead in drinking water, we want to ensure the safety of each and every water fountain children may use. Please know we are taking every proactive measure possible as a safeguard for your children. The district will remedy any issues identified as a result of additional testing. Please feel free to send your child to school with a bottle of water if you so choose. Each of our schools will have operational water fountains that have been tested and identified as safe drinking water sources. We will also be providing water bottles to our schools, where necessary. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.
Superintendent of Schools