In the spring of 2017 we notified the community that Richland would be testing our water for lead in both schools. The bill signed into law by Governor Rauner on January 16, 2017, mandated all schools constructed prior to 1987 must conduct sample testing on water by December 31, 2017. To assure the safety of our students and staff we conducted testing on all water sources used for drinking and cooking throughout the entire campus. These tests were, professionally administered, using the mandated two flush system. First flush water must sit between 8-18 hours before taking the sample. Second flush, sample taken after water ran for 30 seconds after first sample. The samples were sent to an IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) accredited lab for analysis. Results from the tests came back the second week of June.
At Richland 32 sources were tested taking 64 samples. We have reviewed the test results. The results showed that while lead is present in the water, it is at a level to pose no threat to the health of those drinking it. The IDPH mandates that any lead findings that exceed 5 ppb (5 parts per billion) be reported to the community. Of the 64 samples taken, only four samples exceeded the 5 ppb. These fountains are located outside the small gym in the JHS, the fountain located outside room 103 in the JHS, the fountain outside room 301 in the JHS and the fountain by the bathrooms on the first floor of the elementary school. Of these four, on the second flush they came back under the 5 ppb. While we follow the IDPH guidelines, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) list levels of safe water as long as they are below 15 ppb.
As a precaution, we have begun implementing a mitigation plan. Richland is flushing all drinking water on a daily basis. Further, we are researching a lead reduction filter for each source of drinking water with levels from the testing that exceeds 5 ppb, in the hope to implement prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. This communication is to keep the community informed and kept abreast of the initiatives we are employing regarding this matter.