32 Hamilton-Wentworth schools fail water lead test

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says about 32 of its schools have failed a mandatory provincial water lead test.

Issue may be limited to single fixture in some cases, board says

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says about 32 of its schools have failed a water lead test.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says 32 of its schools have failed a mandatory provincial water lead test.

Although they have failed the test, associate director for the board Stacey Zucker tells CBC Hamilton, the issue may not affect the entire school and may be limited to just a single fixture in some cases.

The board is notifying parents of students at affected schools, and information about the tests has been placed on school websites.

As of July 18, the affected schools include: Billy Green, Elizabeth Bagshaw, Lake Avenue, Huntington Park, Cootes Paradise, Sir. Isaac Brock, Spencer Valley, Bennetto, Norwood Park, Buchanan Park, Mount Albion, Mountview, Dundas Central, W.H. Ballard, Chedoke, Lisgar, Dr. Seaton, Mountain View, Ancaster Senior, Glenwood, Ryerson, Tapleytown, Janet Lee, Strathcona, Glendale, Richard Beasley and Westmount.

"As the test results come in, we're informing the schools and the general public about the results," Zucker says.

The board is in the process of testing about 1,800 fixtures in its schools for lead.

More stringent regulations for testing water fixtures in schools were put into place last July by the provincial government, and school boards were given three years to test their fixtures.

Zucker says test have been conducted on water in local schools since 2007, but prior to the new regulations the tests were done in a limited fashion.

Under the new regulations, the board now takes two samples from each fixture — a "standing" sample where water is taken right as it is turned on and a "flushed" sample where water is taken after it has been running.

Results for the tests will continue to come in over the coming weeks as more fixtures are tested. 

Fixtures that have high amounts of lead after a flushing sample is taken are typically put out of service until they can be replaced or fitted with a filter and retested. If it still fails, the fixture just remains out of service, according to Zucker.

While the number of fixtures failing water lead tests are increasing, Zucker says that parents shouldn't be concerned.

"We're following up accordingly, so we're taking it seriously," she says. "We're working with public health to make sure that we do take all the precautions necessary."