Burr Remediation

NPS website on Burr Elementary water testing and remediation

October 6 Update:

Wondering why post-remediation test results were so high and now seem okay? What changed? See our full explanation.

The latest letter from David Fleishman makes it sound like that’s a wrap. However, we will continue to advocate for:

  1. Additional testing to demonstrate that clean test results are shown to be repeatable and not a fluke.
  2. Improved signage. Signage we advocated for and approved was reproduced in too small a size and placed where it will not be noticed by children or staff. Signs need to be large and visible. Also some sinks (e.g., BCAP) were missed.
  3. Under-sink hot-water heaters for sinks that in theory could be used for drinking (nurse, teachers lounge, kitchen)
  4. Good record keeping (why are the spreadsheets still changing the name of the same fixture on each sampling date?)…
  5. Explanations about future use of aerators, terminology such as “water main (2″)”, etc.

Note about signs: We approved signs for classroom sink signs, bathroom sink signs, and kitchen/nurse/staff room sink signs. Unfortunately, the signs were not reproduced at full 8.5 x 11″ size as we had anticipated, nor were they placed in visible locations. Jessica has moved some from high up on bathroom mirrors to lower down where they can be seen. Unfortunately this improvement also indicates they may not be very permanent.

Update about aerators: NPS says that “The aerators will be replaced on all sinks, with the exception of the nurse, staff, and kitchen sinks. We will leave the aerators off those sinks because consumption is possible and we know that the water is safe without them.” This should mitigate future cross-contamination at nurse, staff, and kitchen sinks. However, we should anticipate lead particles accumulating in classroom and bathroom sink aerators over time, leading to cross-contamination at these sinks in the future. (How quickly or severely we don’t know.) If this occurs, additional testing is not planned for these sinks, so we would not know.

September 2nd News:

  • Post remediation testing shows multiple fountains and sinks above action thresholds for copper and lead (Full results)
  • Fountains shut off. Students and staff will be provided bottled water. (See letter)
  • Sinks will be for hand washing and cleaning only (signs are posted).
  • Investigation into source of lead will be ongoing…
  • A brief update will be provided at the Burr Welcome Back coffee on Friday, September 9th at 8:30 a.m.

August 11th Hot  Water Update

What: Hot water will not come through cold water pipes & under-sink heaters as previously announced. Instead, existing hot water pipes with lead solder will be reconnected to the new sinks.

This is a revision to the July 8th Burr remediation plan, which stated “Based upon feedback from Burr families, a new electric, on-demand hot water heater will be installed to heat all water going through the cold water pipes to all hot water faucets at all sinks.”

Why: Electrical requirements are too large for electric under-sink heaters, which would require upgrading Burr from its current 400 amp service to a 2000 amp service. The electrical utility estimated a 6-8 month time frame for such an upgrade.

Why this might be okay: No one should be drinking from the hot tap at any sinks. Hot water should only be used for washing or cleaning. There should no drinking at all from classroom or bathroom sinks. The only sinks that should be used for drinking are ones accessed by adults (Nurse room, staff room, kitchen) who can read the sign which will say to drink from the cold tap only.

Why this might not be okay: When was the last time your child followed all the rules when no one was looking? Kids might drink from the wrong tap. Also, lead solder could detach from hot water pipes and stick in a sink aerator, thereby contaminating the cold water. We wouldn’t notice until the next round of annual testing.

Reasonable opinions could vary among:

  1. This is terrible, we need to yell until they get all the lead out of all Burr water. If there is water kids will drink it. You can’t watch them all the time.
  2. This is terrible, we need to have all hot water disconnected from sinks kids use or people drink from. They can get by with cold water for washing.
  3. I don’t like this, but I can live with it. It’s not so different from the situation at the other 22 schools in NPS where classroom and bathroom sinks remain untested. Parents and teachers and signs can work together to make sure kids don’t drink from the sinks.
  4. This is reasonable, as we should never have an expectation that hot water is safe to drink from any sink in our communities. Hot water is never tested for contamination because its likely to be there from one source or another and it’s always safer to drink from the cold tap. For instance, at our home we only tested cold water for lead, and we only drink from our cold tap.

Where do you fit in on 1-2-3-4? Let us know at burr-water-liaisons@googlegroups.com.

Biweekly Burr Remediation Updates

September 2, 2016: Burr post-remediation testing update: letter and results. (Disappointing news–the water is still contaminated)

August 17, 2016: Burr remediation progress update #2. (This update omits the news that the plan has been revised such that existing pipes with lead solder will be reused for hot water supply to sinks.)

July 26, 2016: Burr remediation progress update #1.

July 8th Burr Remediation Plan

In a July 8th letter, David Fleishman released a written remediation plan for Burr.

Note that in response to community feedback at the June 29th meeting and further input from parent liaisons this includes hot water heaters that ensure all water (even hot water) only flows through new pipes. Great! 

August 11th update: We learned that the plan has been revised and hot water will flow to sinks through original pipes with lead solder. See above.