As you may have seen in the media, there was a drinking fountain that was recently removed from San Marcos Middle School after it was discovered to have a higher level of lead than is considered safe.
It is critical to San Marcos Unified to ensure that the water used by our students, staff, and community is safe. In addition to having the water tested at all of our school locations, we also wanted to provide information to our community regarding the steps leading up to this action.
What resulted in San Marcos Unified School District conducting tests at three District schools?
Following the event in Flint (Michigan), The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) amended the permit for all public water system in California in order to mandate free lead testing in schools, if requested by the school district.
While not required, Vallecitos Water District notified the District of this new mandate from the SWRCB. The mandate became effective in January 2017.
Why did the District choose to test Alvin Dunn Elementary, Richland Elementary, and San Marcos Middle School?
In 1986, the use of lead solder was banned from use in joining copper pipes. These three schools were originally constructed prior to 1986. All other schools in the District were constructed or renovated after 1986.
What are the measurement standards?
The current standards followed by the Vallecitos Water District were developed and implemented by the United States EPA in 1991. The standards state that the Action Level (AL) for lead is 15 ug/L. This is defined to mean “micrograms per liter” or “parts per billion”.
The Department of Drinking Water regulations state that any results at 15 ug/L or less are considered safe.
What were the results of the tests conducted?
At Alvin Dunn Elementary, five samples were collected. All results were below the 15 ug/L Action Level.
At Richland Elementary, five samples were collected. All results were below the 15 ug/L Action Level.
At San Marcos Middle School, five samples were collected. Four results were below the 15 ug/L Action while one sample was above.
What does this mean and what did the District do?
It is important to note that the water received from Vallecitos Water District meets current standards and regulations.
In this instance, the sample from a fixture (drinking fountain) at San Marcos Middle School had a higher level greater than 15 ug/L. When the District was notified of the results, the fixture was removed from service.
The District is also making arrangements to have additional tests conducted at other locations at San Marcos Middle School.
Have there been any illnesses reported due to this drinking fountain?
No. There have not been any reports of illness that are due to or can be traced back to this drinking fountain.
What can I do if I’m worried about my child having lead poisoning?
You can contact the California Department of Public Health – Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 619-692-8487. The best recommendation we can offer is to take your child to their general physician for blood tests.