Lead found in Beaverton school drinking fountains

Lead was detected in two drinking fountains at Highland Park Middle School

Highland Park Middle School in Beaverton. (Beaverton Schools)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Lead has been detected in water from two drinking fountains at Highland Park Middle School.

Officials say a complaint from a student about the color of the water lead to the testing, done by a certified industrial hygienist.

The school tested 5 different locations in the school for lead, metals and bacteria. Lead was only found in two, but iron and turbidity was found in others. Water in the kitchen did not have any elevated levels.

The tests were done 10 days ago, and results show one fountain had 21.1 parts per billion, and the other had 16.9 parts per billion. The EPA guildlines say something needs to be done if drinking water tests higher than 15 parts per billion.

In a press release, the school said they are taking the following steps to address the problem:

  • Turn off all drinking fountains in hallways and classrooms. Put signage in classrooms that have combined faucet/drinking fountains.
  • Provide bottled water dispensers in every classroom, gyms, main office, staff room, cafeteria and health room. For some time, students have been bringing in their own bottles of water and we would encourage this to continue.
  • The BSD maintenance team will evaluate the system checking the aeration and filtration devices, operating mechanisms and replace parts as needed.
  • We will consult with the City of Beaverton who supplies water to the school.
  • Repiping of the entire school is included in the current bond program and is scheduled for summer 2017. Highland Park Middle School has 50-year old galvanized steel pipes and the water has been discolored due to rusting of the pipes. Advancing this $1.5 million project to 2016 is not feasible due to the time required for design, permitting and construction. The work would entail tearing up hallway floors and walls, etc., which could not be completed by September.

The City of Beaverton also issued a press release stating that despite the lead found in Highland Park drinking fountains, the city’s water is safe and exceeds state and federal standards. They said the lead in the school is related to the age of the pipes in the building.

Highland Park is 50 years old, and tests from 4 other schools came back OK. The Beaverton School District is planning to test other schools as well.

“There are a number of older buildings in our district and so even well before this happened, we started having conversations our district safety committee to test all our schools,” said Maureen Wheeler. “So there is a plan in the future for us to test all the schools, get a good baseline to find out where we’re at 14.”


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