Sheldon Berman, Superintendent
36R Bartlet St.
Andover, MA 01810
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Andover Schools Provide Update on Water Testing
ANDOVER — Superintendent of Schools Sheldon Berman reports that the Andover Public Schools are continuing to take action to eliminate lead and copper from water systems after elevated levels were found at two schools earlier this year.
Officials have removed several outdated and broken water fixtures from the West Elementary School and Shawsheen Preschool after elevated lead levels were found in fixtures at the West Elementary and elevated copper was found in a fixture at the Shawsheen.
In addition to removing these fixtures, filters are being installed on five water fountains at the West Elementary School. Even though the old fountains were found to be below the state limits for lead, school officials believe that the filters will further increase the purity and safety of the water, while offering peace of mind. Aggressive follow-up testing was conducted Tuesday, March 21 on all fixtures at the West Elementary School. The results are due in April.
The School Department continues to deal with one problematic site. A fixture was removed from room C12 at the West Elementary School and replaced with a new fixture, but it still showed elevated lead levels. The plumbing and copper pipes feeding that fixture were replaced, and the lead levels actually rose. The fixture is currently off limits, and the facilities department is investigating a number of possible causes.
The school department does not believe that there is any risk to the health and safety of students, faculty and staff but is continuing to take precautions to ensure safety. In addition, Superintendent Berman has included the water quality reports in the Statement of Interest that will soon be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority as part of a proposal to renovate or replace the West Elementary School.
“While the Andover Public Schools will do everything it can today to ensure the safety of our students and the purity of the water that used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, we acknowledge that the West Elementary School building is nearing the end of its service life,” Superintendent Berman said.
The high levels of lead and copper seen in tests are not coming from the town’s water supply, but rather they are directly correlated to the age and lack of use of the fixtures themselves. The schools also do not have any lead pipes.
The Andover Public Schools are notifying all families and staff about the tests results via Connect5 and through a news release to the media. The schools are also planning to hold a public forum for parents, which will include representatives from the schools, facilities, Health Division, and Public Works Department.
Those seeking additional information may download fact sheets on lead levels and copper levels in drinking water, which contain information from the Department of Environmental Protection. If anyone has any questions or concerns, they may also call Superintendent Berman’s Office at 978-247-7010.