Aug. 17, 2016
Dear APS Families:
Recent press coverage about lead in drinking water at schools and cities around the nation has elevated public concern over this issue. Arlington County’s water system is regularly monitored and meets all state and federal drinking water standards. Although all water fountains and kitchen water sources used for cooking in Arlington Public Schools (APS) were tested and remediated where necessary in 2004, as a precaution, APS tested three water samples at every school facility this summer.
All of the sample test results were below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the lower Virginia Department of Health (VDH) standards (15 parts per billion or lower) in all locations tested, except for one location at Jamestown Elementary School. Further steps are being taken at Jamestown to replace a drinking fountain and some fixtures in the oldest part of the school.
Given the results of this recent sampling, staff believes that the drinking water in APS schools are below the VDH and EPA recommended levels for lead. However, to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff, APS is currently performing tests of all drinking fountains in our facilities before the start of school in September. If the test results identify any water fountain above approved levels, the water will be turned off immediately at that location, the fixture or plumbing will be replaced, and the fixture will not be turned on again until it is retested with results in the approved range. In those school locations, bottled water will be provided if necessary.
Future Testing Program
To align the APS operations with the County’s practice of testing the public water supply every three years, APS is also implementing a plan to test water fountains and kitchen water supply sources in one third of our school facilities on a three-year rolling rotation. Water fountains and kitchen water sources in new or renovated facilities will be tested before occupancy, and thereafter will be part of our standard three-year rotation. You can find more information about water in our schools on the APS website. For information about the County’s water distribution system, visit the Arlington County website.
All of us in APS and the County take the health and well-being of our students, families and staff very seriously and we will continue to collaborate to ensure that we maintain excellent facilities where our students can learn and grow.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back to school in September. In the meantime, we hope the final weeks of summer are enjoyable for your family.
Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.,
Arlington Public Schools
Reuben Varghese, MD, MPH,
Health Director & Division Chief
Arlington County – Public Health Division
David W. Hundelt, P.E.,
Chief Support Engineer
Arlington County – Water/Sewer/Streets Bureau