Lead found in three Galesburg elementary school water tests

Published: Aug. 16, 2017 at 5:47 PM CDT
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The water has been shut off in classrooms at three Galesburg elementary schools. There's a concern about lead. The district is working on a fix. The discovery comes after a new state law for schools to test for lead in their water.

On the second day of class in Galesburg schools, the sinks don't work in some elementary class rooms.

Superintendent John Asplund said, "Right now we just turned the water off in those areas so there's no risk to the children, soon as we get the signage up and map out a solution we'll send a notification home."

Asplund said water testing discovered lead from sinks in three of his buildings.

"It's only in what we call the cookie cutter schools, the buildings built in 1968," said Asplund.

Nielson, Gale, and parts of King elementary schools have the tainted sinks. The district traced the lead to solder holding together the sinks and the stops. The district plans to replace the fixtures over the coming months but will be able to turn the water back on soon.

"As long as we put proper signage up to let people know you can't drink that water," said Asplund.

School districts across Illinois will need to test their water this year if they have buildings built before 1987. That impacts Silvis schools, Georgia O'Barr Elementary was built well before then.

Superintendent Terri Vandewiele said, "We're not concerned about that, the city does water testing periodically, and frequently, it's not a concern but it is something we will do, on the off chance we find something then we will proceed accordingly."

Vandewiele said they won't have to test Northeast Junior High. It's practically new and is exempt. Several other districts said they'll test their water later this fall.

Asplund said he just needs to get the sinks working again before flu season starts.

"In elementary schools, if you spent any time in one you'd start to see why that's a really nice thing to have," said Asplund.

Lead is no good in schools and germs aren't much better either.

Illinois school districts with buildings built between 1987 and 2000 must test for lead by the end of 2018. By law, all districts that test have to notify parents of the results.