WASHINGTON — Every source of drinking water in every public school in Prince George’s County, Maryland is about to be tested for lead and overall water quality.
“We’re going to test every one of the drinking water sources,” said PGCPS Chief Operating Officer Wesley Watts Jr., “and then after that, every three years, we’re going to test the water sources again.”
The program is being implemented in stages that began in 2004 in response to concern in D.C. about lead found in District water pipes.
Since then, PGCPS has worked to address sources with elevated lead levels, as mandated by the EPA. Action has included flushing the system, replacing pipes and fixtures and completely shutting off fixtures.
“While we know our drinking water is safe, we also know that some older buildings may have lead sources within their private plumbing systems,” said Carla Reid, general manager and chief executive officer of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which — along with an independent laboratory — is working with the school district.
“Our tests will help PGCPS identify issues within schools’ plumbing systems,” said Reid.
The final phase of the PGCPS effort, which initially was scheduled to begin this summer, will instead begin in April because, Watts said, some individuals have raised questions about it.
“In the past we’ve done some testing — years ago — and we wanted to make sure that we put a program in place [to] be a little more proactive,” Watts said. “We just want to be proactive and make sure that we’ve covered this for the safety of our children and staff.”
The last system-wide testing for lead in PGCPS was completed in 2009.
Results of the testing will be posted on the school system’s website.
PGCPS also will begin installing filtered water fountains this summer at all schools.