Clovis Unified School District officials announced that tests of water samples from its schools in northeast Fresno show that the water is safe to drink.
Results from all 13 campuses show levels of lead below a federal threshold for requiring corrective action at fixtures used for drinking and cooking.
“We now have the data in hand to be assured that drinking sources on these campuses are free of water-quality concerns,” said Don Ulrich, Clovis Unified’s assistant superintendent for facilities. The test results also offer the district “helpful information to shape a long-term plan to maintain water quality at all of our schools.”
Concerns over lead stem from a growing number of complaints by residents across northeast Fresno about discolored water coming from their taps. An investigation by the city suggests that the problems are associated with galvanized plumbing inside the homes and how those pipes are affected by changing water quality between pumped groundwater that the city had historically relied on for drinking water, and water from the city’s Northeast Surface Water Treatment Plant.
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Testing of water samples at some homes affected by discolored water showed levels of lead, a toxic heavy metal, at concentrations of 15 parts per billion or greater. That is the level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at which water suppliers are required to take corrective action.
The lead results at homes prompted an initial round of testing earlier this year at six elementary schools closest to the treatment plant near Chestnut and Behymer avenues: Riverview, Copper Hills, Fort Washington, Fugman, Liberty and Valley Oak elementary schools.
Five faucets were tested at each school, typically those receiving the heaviest use, such as cafeterias and drinking fountains. Out of 30 fixtures, four faucets at three schools – two at Fort Washington, one apiece at Riverview and Copper Hills – tested positive for lead, but all were at levels below the EPA action level. The school district quickly replaced those faucets to remedy the problem.
We now have the data in hand to be assured that drinking sources on these campuses are free of water quality concerns.
Don Ulrich, Clovis Unified assistant superintendent for facilities
Once school resumed following the summer break, test samples were collected at the remaining Clovis Unified schools in the area served by the treatment plant: Clovis West and Clovis North high schools; Granite Ridge and Kastner intermediate schools; and Lincoln, Mountain View and Maple Creek elementary schools.
“Three isolated faucets whose water is used for maintenance and cleaning did test slightly above actionable levels and were immediately replaced,” according to a statement issued Friday by the school district.
Those faucets are being retested to see if the water from them meets the EPA standard. An additional 10 faucets tested positive for traces of lead, “though all far below actionable levels” and are being replaced.
After concerns were raised in the community about the safety of drinking water used by students at the schools, Clovis Unified set up bottled-water stations at campuses that had been awaiting the test results. Those water stations will be discontinued now because “we are confident that the drinking sources at these schools are free of water-quality concerns,” the district’s statement said.
Since January, a social media post by a northeast Fresno resident asked if any neighbors were having discolored water at their taps. That prompted a surge of reports and complaints that have now grown to between 1,500 and 1,600 homes as of earlier this week. Of almost 700 homes for which test results have been returned, nearly 300 have at some point shown the presence of lead in the water, including almost 120 that exceed the EPA’s standard.
The water woes also sparked a lawsuit filed earlier this month by three residents and proposed as a class-action case against the city of Fresno alleging that the city is responsible for damage to their pipes and possible physical harm caused by water from the 12-year-old treatment plant.