Burleson ISD testing for lead in water

By Todd Glasscock, originally posted on August 6, 2016


One Johnson County school district has decided to test its water for lead.

Burleson ISD will test its school’s water for the toxic heavy metal as a proactive safety measure for the whole district, Burleson ISD Superintendent Bret Jimerson said.

“The health and safety of students and faculty members in Burleson ISD is a top priority,” Jimerson said in a statement. “We are consulting with an environmental specialist to assist us in testing all of our water sources. All drinking water sources will be tested prior to students returning to school.”

Jimerson added the cost of testing hasn’t been determined.

The school district’s concerns about lead contamination might have come from recent discoveries of high concentrations of the metal in Fort Worth schools, said Kevin North, city of Burleson public works director, who was on a conference call, along with the school district, with Tarrant County officials discussing the discovery.

The school district is a city water customer, North said, and all of the city’s water supply comes from the city of Fort Worth.

But, Fort Worth’s water has been tested and treated and is clear, North said, and according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report the 28 schools in the Fort Worth ISD, where high concentrations of the metal have been found, have older water fountains and officials speculate that’s where the problems are isolated.

Moreover, Burleson’s water is tested regularly, according to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regulations, North said, and recent tests show the water is high quality.

“We’ve done all our lead and copper sampling,” he said, and all of the sampling came back well below TCEQ standards. “We’re in good shape.”

The TCEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency sets 15 parts per billion levels of contaminants like lead as acceptable and North said recent Burleson testing came out to about 3 parts per billion.

Still, he said, testing is serious business, given lead’s toxicity, in particular when a person is exposed to high levels of the metal.

Lead poisoning, health experts say, can lead to damage of red blood cells, limiting oxygen transmission to organs and tissue and causing anemia. It can also interfere with red blood cell production and reduce calcium absorption, which affects bone growth and strength.

Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning, according to KidsHealth.org, and can affect bone and muscle growth and coordination, as well as nervous system and kidney damage, along with speech impairment and developmental delays.

“We have not had issues [with lead],” said Lisa Magers, public information officer for Cleburne ISD. “We are on the city water system.”

She said the city monitors and tests water regularly and it’s of high quality, so the school district has no plans to make separate tests, and according to the city, the city’s water supply gets a superior rating from TCEQ.

Water quality in other districts like Alvarado and Joshua also receive high marks, according to reports from the Johnson County Special Utility District, which provides water to those districts.

The district’s most recent report shows lead concentrations at just 2.36 parts per billion.

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