Greenon schools close faucets, remove fixtures after finding lead in water

Jared Shore, principal at Greenon Junior/Senior High School, talks about how they've taken the faucets in one of the school's science labs out of service after traces of lead were found in the water. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Jared Shore, principal at Greenon Junior/Senior High School, talks about how they've taken the faucets in one of the school's science labs out of service after traces of lead were found in the water. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Elevated levels of lead were found in water in Greenon Local School buildings this summer, according to the district.

“In recent test results, the Greenon Junior/Senior School has detected lead in levels exceeding the federal/state action level,” said Superintendent Darrin Knapke.

The district has been collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since finding lead on July 6, in which 90% of the samples collected had lead levels below 35.9 parts per billion, Knape said. The district then decided to take samples from 33 additional sites on Aug. 11 that were based on the 10 samples from July 6, and two of those samples were above 15 parts per billion.

The lead levels of 35.9 parts per billion was reported in a sink faucet in a science lab and 24.4 parts per billion was reported in the girl’s shower in the athletic building, according to the lead sampling results.

When lead levels in drinking water are at or above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion, schools must take action as lead can cause serious health problems.

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“Greenon Junior/Senior School is working with Ohio EPA to correct this issue. We have removed the two additional fixtures that tested above 15 micrograms per liter from service. We will also be testing the water for corrosivity and developing and implementing corrosion treatment,” Knapke said.

The district said the faucets are currently closed, and they are working with the EPA to create a flushing system.

“Although these two faucets are not drinking water sources, we immediately took steps to close the faucets and correct the issues. We are working with the EPA to create a flushing system and to implement quarterly lead testing,” Knapke said.

Knapke said the district believes the levels were elevated since there has not been regular usage and flow in the building, resulting in standing water, since the mandated school closure in March.

“We are collaborating with EPA to ensure that the building continues to be safe for our students, staff and community. We will continue to adhere to all EPA and industry testing and safety recommendations to ensure that our public water system provides safe drinking water for our students and staff,” he said.

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Lead enters water primarily as a result of corrosion in lead fixtures, such as pipes, faucets and fixtures, according to the EPA. Corrosion is when metal dissolves or is worn away by a chemical reaction between water and plumbing.

Too much lead in water can cause serious health problems, including development problems in children, according to the EPA.

Steps to reduce lead in water can include getting it tested or running water before using it for drinking or cooking, according to the EPA.

“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, we will continue to work closely with experts to ensure that our learning environment is as safe and healthy as possible,” Knapke said.

Greenon will be opening a new $50 million kindergarten through 12th grade school in the fall of 2021. Ground was broken for the new school in September 2018.

The new school will be located at the northeastern corner of Rebert Pike and Enon-Xenia Road, and is being built on the current site of the Indian Valley Intermediate School. However, Indian Valley will remain open during construction but will close once the new school opens, as well as Enon Primary and Greenon High School.