I am relieved and pleased to report to our students, families, teachers and staff that the water they drink and use has met Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
That means that following the district’s voluntary water testing initiative for the presence of lead this summer, all occupied APS buildings have met the standard of being below the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for public water systems. This is even more stringent than the EPA’s action level for schools, which is 20 ppb.
I am proud that our school district was the first in metro Atlanta to take the proactive step to test our water and ensure that it is in compliance with EPA standards. As always, the safety and well-being of our students, employees, and visitors to any of our facilities is paramount. The public can be assured that we take that responsibility very seriously.
We began our water testing initiative last spring in response to reports of lead in the drinking water in a handful of cities nationally, such as Flint, Mich., and Washington, D.C. The district contracted with two independent environmental firms to conduct the tests, which involved taking samples from 25 water sources in all 113 APS-owned facilities.
At the halfway point of the testing process last July, we reported that more than 97 percent of the water sources tested district-wide met the EPA standard. Since then, our team worked diligently to resolve the issues with the remaining 3 percent. Today, we can report that water in every occupied building in APS has been cleared.
But we remain diligent and have established protocols and procedures for addressing the buildup of lead in the water systems of our facilities. This includes:
- Closely following EPA-recommended guidelines for flushing all water sources in all school facilities that have been unoccupied by students and staff for longer than seven days.
- Development of a regular testing schedule, whereby water sources in district facilities are tested on an ongoing basis.
- Continue working with the City of Atlanta on any water testing initiatives.
Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff, and I am proud of the leadership this district took in being the first school district in Georgia to test water across its system. Thanks to Chief Operating Officer Larry Hoskins; Alvah Hardy, executive director of facilities; and Yvonne Douglas, project manager for APS Energy and Environmental Services for championing this effort.