By: Samantha Louis
Edward R. Murrow faces a water problem.
On December 20 every potential source of water for drinking or preparing food at Edward R. Murrow HS was tested for lead.
The laboratory results showed elevated levels of lead in 67 of the 351 samples of water taken and tested within the building. Each affected fixture at Edward R. Murrow will remain out of service until the problem is remediated and future testing shows that the water does not have an elevated level of lead.
“It’s my understanding that (New York State) created a new protocol for this year and I believe all schools experienced this new protocol for lead testing,” said Mr. Allen Barge, Principal. “They came in and tested the water; they went through the process overnight and we got our results a few weeks later. They did identify some faucets that were considered elevated under the new protocol.”
Some of the faucets that were identified with high levels of lead were in all third-and-fourth floor Science Labs. The boys’ bathroom on the third floor, a fountain in the boys’ locker room and also a fountain in Gym 1B were also shut down.
Each affected fixture will remain out of service until it is remediated and future testing show that the water does not have an elevated level of lead.
The custodial staff at Murrow will continue flushing the water systems in order to eliminate water that has been stagnant in pipes and ensure safe drinking water for the students and faculty.
“Over the last couple of years they have been tested pretty consistently,” said Mr. Barge. “I don’t know how often they will test the water but I would imagine it’s going to continue to be part of a routine every year.”
According to Parent Coordinator Ms. Rosie De Innocentiis she has been in contact with parents about the occurring water problem. The school sent out letters as well as an email blast. The school also posted it on its website.
Ms. De Innocentiis said most of the problems are with fountains that students usually don’t use. The fountains that are contaminated with lead have a sign over them warning students not to drink from it.
“I wouldn’t really say it affects them [the students] at all. It just puts a little more of a time frame for them to get water,” she said. “If the water was affected there was a notice put up, and they could always get water at a fountain that wasn’t.”
Murrow isn’t the only school that’s had a positive lead result. According to a WNYC analysis of city data, the drinking water in more than 1,000 public school buildings in the city went at least a decade without being tested for lead. They went without being tested because the buildings were constructed after a nationwide ban on lead plumbing went into effect and weren’t considered at risk for lead contamination.
Junior Melody Garcia said she does think twice about drinking the contaminated water.
“Yes I still drink from the water fountain. But, I started bringing my own water bottle, just in case,” she said.