High lead levels force sink, fountain replacements


ARGENTA, Ill. (WAND) – Another Illinois school district will replace water sources with high levels of lead.

Leaders in the Argenta-Oreana school district say they tested sinks and water fountains on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7. Illinois law requires lead testing at elementary schools built before 1987, but the district took it a step further and went through testing at its middle school and high school.

Water with a lead level above the state’s 5 parts per billion limit requires action from schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a benchmark set at 15 parts per billion.

Argenta-Oreana Elementary School went through testing at 10 water fountains and seven sinks. Three sinks and three fountains had a level above the state action limit, while one sink passed the maximum EPA number. At the district’s middle school, only one of three tested sinks had lead above 5 parts per billion, while the high school found one of four fountains tested higher than the limit.

Both the middle school and high school stayed within the acceptable EPA range.

Argenta-Oreana Superintendent Damian Jones Sr. says the district has a response plan in place. Fountains and sinks above the Illinois or EPA limits are now shut off. Affected elementary school sinks will be off limits for drinking, but can still be used for washing hands. All drinking sources with high numbers will be replaced.

The district says it’s also considering a flushing protocol for Mondays, in which it will release water at the start of the week after lead sat in pipes on weekends. 

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