On the heels of news of unsafe water supplies around the country, some schools in the Portland Public School district were found to have unsafe levels of lead in drinking water. Mid-county parents and residents have expressed concern about the water going into our schools. Two districts have provided comprehensive information. Parkrose’s comes in the form of a letter from the superintendent.

David Douglas
In 2013, the David Douglas School District conducted tests for lead levels in all school buildings. Levels exceeding the federal EPA maximum standard of 20 parts per billion were found at some specific water sources in 10 buildings. Those affected sources were immediately shut off. Sources that have not since been re-piped remain shut off.

Most buildings had just a few fixtures showing elevated lead levels. Buildings with specific sources showing elevated lead levels during initial testing were Cherry Park Elementary, Earl Boyles Elementary, Gilbert Heights Elementary, Gilbert Park Elementary, Menlo Park Elementary, West Powellhurst Elementary, Ventura Park Elementary, North Powellhurst, Alice Ott Middle School and David Douglas High School.

In the short term, bottled drinking water was provided for use by students and staff in highly impacted buildings—Cherry Park, Gilbert Park, Menlo Park, Ventura Park and North Powellhurst. Bottled water continues to be provided at Gilbert Park and North Powellhurst. The remaining buildings have either since been re-piped, or they have an adequate number of water sources that do not show elevated lead levels.

During previously planned bond construction work, in 2014 and 2015 new piping was built to all domestic water sources at Menlo Park Elementary, Cherry Park Elementary and Ventura Park Elementary. New piping was also constructed to the affected fixtures at the south campus of David Douglas High School.

Following the re-piping projects, new tests showed negative results for lead levels at those locations, and those fixtures were put back into use.

The district has continued to test over the past two years and intends to continue its testing program on a regular basis.

Data indicating specifically when and where tests were conducted, the results of those tests and actions taken in response is reported under the facilities section of the DDSD website, which you can visit at this link: www.ddouglas.k12.or.us/departments/facilities/lead-testing/.

According to Superintendent Karen Fischer Gray, all schools in her district passed test. They are: elementary schools Prescott, Russell, Sacramento and Shaver, Parkrose Middle and Parkrose High School, as well as the administration building. Parkrose School District performed testing on 44 lead samples at nine different sites, including their six schools and three rental properties. Of these 44 samples, three samples failed. All three were at Knott School, which the district rents to the nonprofit Morrison Child & Family Services.

Lessee Multnomah Education Service District tested Thompson and Sumner schools, and they passed. Gray said a test dated February 2015 that MESD sent the district had one sink at Thompson not passing—a report Parkrose was not given until June 2 of 2016, Gray said. It is being retested.

The district’s corrective action plan for Knott is:

Provide bottled water for the lessees, which they will pick up and use until the faucets are fixed. (Faucets were scheduled to be repaired June 15.)

Gray estimated the cost at $80 to shut off the faucets at the three sites, flush and inspect the lines, replace those that need replacing and add filters.

In addition, the district is creating an annual rotation cycle to test their water.

“We checked with the filter vendor, and the filters we get are carbon filters, which catch the lead,” Gray said in her letter. “We are still waiting for confirmation that they are top quality and catching everything we want to catch.”

While districts are not required to do testing for radon, Gray said they’ll test for radon this summer and, as always, check for lead paint. She said lead paint has not been used in the district for at least 15 years. “We have layers and layers of latex paint that covers up anything old and lead-based,” she said. “We check all of our buildings for peeling paint so if we see it, we immediately paint over it. This has been our standard practice for the last 15 years.” The district keeps test results on file for public perusal.

The city of Portland has tested water at community centers and other facilities. Find test results here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bibs/71035.