State Launches $2 Million Program to Test Schools’ Water for Lead

Hazardous levels were reported in Boston Public Schools.

Photo (Edited) by ThoseGuys119 on Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo (Edited) by ThoseGuys119 on Flickr/Creative Commons

The state has launched an expansive new effort to ensure that every school in Massachusetts can test its water for lead, after high levels were reported in drinking water at Boston Public Schools.

The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust’s board of trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to give the Department of Environmental Protection’s new initiative $2 million, to ensure that all school districts have the necessary resources to test for lead contamination, State House News Service reports.

“This allows us to provide technical assistance, practical on-the-ground assistance, it helps us help the schools that need our help to sample, to get real-time results back and to develop plans for addressing any issues,” DEP commissioner Martin Suuberg told SHNS.

This program is expected to aid as many as 1,750 Massachusetts schools, helping them create and enact a water testing program.

“A problem has been identified, collaborative work has happened very quickly and we anticipate getting this analysis done before the school year is over,” said Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who also chairs the Clean Water Trust and School Building Authority. “It is government being proactive and responsive to the needs of the people, which you don’t always hear about but you can see happening right here today.”

Last month, Boston Public Schools officials pledged better testing for hazardous lead contamination in its 37 buildings that still use tap water for drinking. Two-thirds of these schools have not been tested in at least six years, the Globe reports.

The federal EPA recommends schools not use water when lead concentration is greater than 20 parts per billion, while the DEP recommends no greater than 15 parts per billion. A sample from a kitchen faucet at the Haley Elementary School in Roslindale measured 27.1 parts per billion. A sample from a water fountain at the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan measured a staggering 115 parts per billion.