More Cuyahoga County school districts begin testing for lead levels in drinking water

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio - Scares of lead-laden water supplies are sweeping across Midwest communities, and 16 school districts across Cuyahoga County have been asked by News 5 if they would voluntarily test their water supplies.

There is no law, federal or state, that requires school districts to test for lead. Some Northeastern Ohio school buildings date back decades, with water sources, including drinking fountains and sinks, just as old.

Recent incidents throughout the Midwest, including in Flint, Michigan, have revealed drastic shortcomings by public leaders to preemptively identify high lead levels until after the public has been exposed.

Thousands of Flint residents were impacted by the contaminated drinking water and several public officials are facing criminal charges.

The Flint crisis prompted the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to test 1,700 drinking-water outlets in several of their buildings. The results, after multiple rounds of testing, showed 9% of drinking water sources had elevated levels of lead. The EPA’s action level for lead is a sample containing greater than 15 parts per billion.

News 5 asked a number of Cuyahoga County school districts if they have tested for lead, or if Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s results would prompt them to. These were the responses of the 16 schools asked:

Beachwood – No response.

Brooklyn City – No response.

Cleveland Heights – Currently Cleveland Heights School District is going through pricing to have lead testing performed on their 13 school buildings, many of which the school district considers older.

Cuyahoga Heights – Two months ago Cuyahoga Heights School District tested all of their buildings’ water sources for lead levels and all results fell within a safe level.

East Cleveland – East Cleveland School District has no plans to test for lead in their drinking water because, according to school officials, the district has six buildings total, four of which are brand new and the two remaining were recently renovated. School officials say there are no concerns of lead right now.

Euclid City – Euclid City School District received a lead testing grant this year from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Plans are being finalized to test their school buildings within the next couple of weeks. The district has seven buildings total.

Fairview Park – The District is planning to test all potable water sources in all schools older than 7 years.  The district is working on a grant submission to pay for testing, plus abatement of fixtures if needed.

Garfield Heights – No response.

Lakewood – Lakewood School District officials said that beginning over the summer, drinking water sources were tested from every active building over the summer. Officials said results were all within a safe, normal range.

Maple Heights – No response.

Richmond Heights – Richmond Heights School District tested all 26 water tanks in both of their school buildings and all results were “compliant,” according to one school official.

Rocky River – No response.

Shaker Heights – No response.

South Euclid/Lyndhurst – No response.

Warrensville Heights – In March, the Warrensville School District analyzed all drinking water sources. Only one source was identified to have high levels of lead. According to school officials, a sink in an athletic office returned unsafe levels. That sink was replaced.

Wickliffe City – In October, Wickliffe City School District received their results from lead testing. All drinking water sources, according to school officials were below EPA action level. Fourty four drinking water fountains were tested in all three of the district’s schools.

News 5 is still waiting from responses from the eight school districts listed with a "No response" above.

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