A recent media report about lead in drinking water for schools across Canada may have raised some questions about water testing in St. Clair Catholic schools.
Since 2007, the Ontario government has required that school boards flush water pipes in schools on a routine basis, sample and test drinking water, maintain logs and report drinking water test results to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Under the old regulation, boards were only required to sample and test water for lead at one location in the building annually.
Effective July 1, 2017, the Ontario government increased testing requirements to ensure that samples were collected and tested from every fixture used for drinking water or food preparation that had not yet been sampled under O. Reg. 243/07. Boards were given three years to test every water fixture in elementary schools and five years for secondary.
In the event of lead exceedances in samples collected from water fixtures, the fixtures are required to be bagged off and signage is posted to indicate the water fixture is out of service and is to remain so until the matter is resolved. The recent media report cited four St. Clair Catholic schools that had lead exceedances in 2017 – St. Elizabeth, Wallaceburg; Our Lady of Fatima, Chatham; St. Ursula, Chatham; and St. Anne, Blenheim. At all four of these schools this protocol was followed. The water fixtures in question were replaced and flushing was increased to daily frequency.
Since 2017, the Board has had only three additional lead exceedances. In 2018 a drinking water fountain at Monsignor Uyen exceeded the provincial standard. The fixture was rarely used because it was located directly beside a fountain that dispenses chilled water; and as a result the fountain was simply removed. In 2019, exceedances were measured in sinks in the child care centres at St. Philip, Petrolia and St. Joseph, Corunna. In both cases the fixtures in question were replaced and flushing was increased to daily frequency. All three of these exceedances were reported to parents/guardians of the school communities in letters from the principals.
St. Clair Catholic continues to follow the 2017 drinking water regulation as required by the Ontario government in all of our schools and childcare centres. As always, the health and safety of our students, staff and visitors to our buildings is our number one priority.
If you have any questions, please speak with your principal.
Director of Education