Local school districts taking steps to address elevated levels of lead, copper in water

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Water testing at more than 1,000 schools across the state found a majority of them had at least one sample with high levels of lead or copper.

The Department of Environmental Protection launched a voluntary program last year, to test the drinking water at public schools across the state for elevated levels of lead and copper.

They published the final results from the program earlier this week. That report showed nearly 600 of the more than 1,000 schools that were tested, had at least one sample that tested above the state’s regulatory limits for lead, which is 15 parts per billion.

Lead can be especially toxic for children. The Academy of Pediatrics has said it’s not safe to drink water with lead levels that are higher than one part per billion.

Dozens of schools across western Massachusetts were named in the report, including East Longmeadow, Holyoke, Greenfield, Easthampton, Chicopee, Springfield, and Longmeadow.

In towns like East Longmeadow, every school had at least one water sample that tested above the state’s regulatory limit. They’re also one of the school districts that has since taken action to address the problem.

According to MassDEP’s report, the district has since posted notes on faucets to prevent children from drinking out of them. They also have been flushing water lines daily, and in some cases, have replaced the affected fixtures.

The program was voluntary, which means school districts aren’t required to address the problem, or tell MassDEP if they do.

The state hasn’t given the schools money to fix the problems, which means if districts want to make changes, they must pay for them on their own.