Superintendent: Lead found in Massena school district water, contamination sources now fixed

By Andy Gardner, originally posted on October 18, 2016


MASSENA — Water testing throughout the Massena Central School District recently revealed lead contamination in a few of the sources tested, but the problem has been fixed and the water is now safe to drink.

“When each of the schools were tested, we have a few samples come back above 15 parts per billion (of lead), the threshold set for the EPA for lead in water,” MCS Superintendent Pat Brady said. “I’m glad we had just a limited amount come back, we dealt with them immediately, they’re all back online in each of those areas and our water is safe to drink here at the school.”

He said over the summer, the district began testing potable water sources at all of its buildings. This is in light of a new state law that mandates all New York school districts test for lead, kindergarten through fifth grade by Sept. 30 and Oct. 31 for grades six through 12. Brady said they wanted to get it done before the requirement.

They checked 98 samples at Nightengale, one of which was above the 15 ppb threshold and 76 at Madison, of which four were above the threshold. None were above the limit at Jefferson, the high school, bus garage or central administration. J.W. Leary had 40 sources checked and eight initially came back above 15 ppb, but it’s believed that was due to a test error.

“The safety officer believed there was a problem with the testing on those. When they were re-tested, they all came back below the threshold,” Brady said.

Of the samples that were contaminated, he said the test indicated the lead was coming from the faucet or some other part of the fixture.

“All of the tests that came back above the threshold indicated it was a problem in the fixture, the faucet, rather than the line itself. This could be due to corrosion over time, due to solder connections,” Brady said.

They replaced the faucets and a second test revealed that solved the problem, with the exception of one faucet at Madison.

“Only one of the second tests came back above (15 ppb), in a band room at Madison where the faucet is not used for student consumption, so we did take that one offline. It wasn’t being used anyway,” the superintendent said.

He said there isn’t concern for students suffering from lead poisoning.

“You’re going to find some level of lead in most water sources, including at home,” Brady said. “If any parent has concerns that their child has lead in their blood above the threshold, I would encourage them to go to their physician and I encourage them to test their own sources of water at home.”

The district will soon have to test all non-potable water sources for lead, such as bathroom faucets or slop sinks. He said there may be some state grant money available to cover the testing costs, but that’s not yet certain.

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