Lead limits exceeded at numerous locations tested in N.S. schools

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Over one-third of the nearly 2,000 drinking water locations tested at schools within the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education (CCRCE) exceeded the maximum acceptable concentration of lead.

Health Canada revised its guidelines related to lead and copper concentration levels in water, leading the Nova Scotia government to announce testing in all schools.

Last December, the province said it would provide drinking water to public schools until testing could be completed.

The Department of Education says water taps that exceed lead or copper limits will either be replaced, disconnected, taped off, or restricted to hand washing only.

Of the 1,939 locations tested within CCRCE, 664 or over 34 per cent exceeded the lead limit, while 41 locations tested exceeded copper limits.

Lead limits were also exceeded in at least half of the locations tested at 25 schools.

CCRCE Communications Manager Jennifer Rodgers tells our newsroom that schools have clean, drinkable water.

She says testing within CCRCE began last fall and any location that had an exceedance was taken out of service, which was followed up with corrective measures such as covering water fountains and posting handwashing only signs.

Water coolers are expected to remain in place as access to drinking fountains was removed to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

Rodgers says CCRCE and the province are working to have touchless bottle fillers installed in all schools.

Results from every school in the province are posted on the Nova Scotia Education Department website, broken down by regional centre for education and the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP).

Government says their plan for school water moving forward includes the ongoing remediation of water taps, plumbing, and pipes, restricting access to water taps that do not meet Health Canada guidelines, and continuing communication with students and staff about water safety efforts at their school.