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Tiger Talk: Taking action to reduce lead in water

The 2017 Minnesota Legislature passed legislation requiring school districts to test for the presence of lead in drinking water.

Minnesota Statutes 121A.335 requires schools to adopt a management plan to test for lead in all buildings that serve students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. Testing must be completed on all taps used for drinking or cooking between July 1, 2018, and June 2023.

The Minnesota Department of Education has suggested the 3T's approach - Train, Test, Take Action. The Pine River-Backus Schools maintenance staff has been trained on how to take samples, what to look for and how to implement preventative maintenance measures.

The school district adopted a Lead in Water Management Plan in June 2018. With the Environmental Protection Agency action, the maximum level of 20 parts per billion was utilized to determine which fixtures needed remediation. Pine River-Backus Schools tested 88 fixtures this fall and, of those, 19 were above the 20 ppb.

With those results, Pine River-Backus maintenance put a fountain/faucet flushing program in effect the same day, as well as cleaned aerators, replaced six new faucets and checked all water coolers in the district to see if they contained lead.

All water coolers in the district are lead-free. Pine River-Backus took the 19 faucet samples that had failed and resampled each. All came back under 5 ppb.

Implementation of these efforts is underway. Potable water sampling must be checked, monitored and tested every five years. As required by the Minnesota Department of Education, signs will be posted on faucets deemed non-potable water or not yet tested.

I maintain lead in water records. You can reach me at 218-587-8004 or kflier@prbschools.org.

For information on the potential for lead in water at private residences, you can contact the Minnesota Department of Health website at www.health.state.mn.us/ or by email at health.drinkingwater@state.mn.us.

Pine River-Backus Schools strives to maintain the safety of the students, staff and community members entering our buildings.