JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Schools nationwide struggle with lead in their water supplies and that has led Jefferson County Public Schools to voluntarily test the water in each of its 155 schools.
The school district has 86,000 students and it tested the water in 91 of its schools.
"We suspected we'd find something because of the age of the buildings. The average age is 45 years," said Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Diana Wilson.
The results show the majority of water tested so far has acceptable levels of lead.
"The EPA doesn't have requirements for schools. They have recommendations of 20 parts per billion or less," Wilson said.
So far, 2,703 water sources tested in the 91 schools (fountains and sinks) have 15 parts per billion or lower. There were 128 water sources that had 20 to 100 PPB. And 22 sources had up to 200 PPB. There were 11 that had more 200 PPB, including at Arvada K-8.
It has three sinks with much higher levels, testing at 544.3, 766.4 and 1,760.8 PPB.
"It's really impossible to say how long the lead levels have been high. We think there's a very low chance anybody will have health issues because of lead levels. Primarily, because the sinks that don't have much use have the highest levels," Wilson said.
Once tests confirm higher lead levels, the district shuts off the water or posts warning signs. It then replaces the parts causing problems: Aerators, fixtures or pipes.
Repairs have taken place at 19 schools.
"The water is safe to drink. We just took the sinks that had high readings out of commission for drinking water," Wilson said.
The district will test every school, but the priority will be schools built before 1990.