Schools conduct water tests

Samples from drinking fountains negative for lead

At nearly every school district in Johnson County, samples have been or soon will be collected from drinking fountains and kitchen sinks.

Those samples will then be tested to see if they contain lead, and if they do, the schools will find a way to address what’s putting the lead into their water.

So far, tests have shown no lead or tiny amounts which could easily be addressed by changing a filter or a fixture.

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Of the schools that have already done testing, national concerns — along with a few older buildings or ones that draw from wells — pushed them to pay for their own testing. Other schools that are planning testing are taking advantage of a free program offered through the state, since lead has been a concern nationwide, schools officials said.

High levels of lead in tap water can cause health problems if the lead enters the bloodstream and causes an elevated blood lead level, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson, Franklin and Greenwood schools applied for testing through a state-funded program that is testing water in hundreds of schools in Indiana.

Clark-Pleasant, Center Grove and Franklin schools have all funded their own tests in recent years.

School officials said they aren’t worried they will find concerning lead levels in their water, but they want to be sure.

When Franklin schools had their water tested last year, they took two samples from each school — one from a drinking fountain and one from the kitchen sink — and had them tested. The school district paid the bill of $1,134, said Bill Doty, who was serving as the school district’s director of operations at the time.

The results showed that the water had between zero and 9.5 micrograms of lead per liter, which is very low, Doty said. For the one area that tested at 9.5 micrograms, school officials changed the fixture to address any concerns, he said.

Now, they are planning to have testing done again through the state program, he said.

Clark-Pleasant schools also did testing last year, due to the national discussion and also due to the age of certain buildings and the plumbing that was used at the time and the fact that one building, Clark Elementary School, gets its water from a well, Superintendent Patrick Spray said.

School officials didn’t have any specific concerns, and the testing showed nothing worrisome, he said.

“That’s why you test. You want to be sure you’re right,” Spray said.

Center Grove also tested for both lead and copper levels last year, and the tests were all fine, spokeswoman Stacy Conrad said.

Other schools plan to take advantage of a state program.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools and Greenwood schools will be part of that testing.

School officials and parents had no specific concerns, but wanted to be part of the free program, Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Schools Superintendent Tim Edsell said.

“Once we saw this opportunity, we took advantage of that,” he said.

Any school could run the risk of having lead, and if something needs to be addressed, officials want to know that, Greenwood Schools Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said. He is concerned about the cost to fix any problems found with the testing, but would rather know about any issues, he said.

DeKoninck doesn’t have specific concerns about any of Greenwood’s schools, but he wanted to take advantage of the state’s offer, he said.

“In my book, it’s kind of hard if you have the chance to do the free testing, it’s kind of hard to turn it down,” he said.

School officials said the testing is supposed to happen later this year, and they are hopeful to have results soon after.

At a glance

Here is a look at what school districts are doing to test for lead levels in their water:

Center Grove: Testing done last year, no concerns found.

Clark-Pleasant: Testing done last year, no concerns found.

Franklin: Testing done last year, very low level found in one reading. Participating in state testing program this year.

Greenwood: Participating in state testing program this year.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson: Participating in state testing program this year.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.