GOLETA, Calif. - The Goleta Union School District is rolling out "hydration stations" at all nine elementary schools after trace amounts of lead were found in the water at three schools.
A letter was sent out on Sept. 7 informing parents of the plan and the ongoing testing happening at all sites.
Voluntary water quality testing began last year. "We are not responding to any complaint," said superintendent Dr. Donna Lewis. "We saw what was happening in other parts of the nation and we decided to find out what’s going on here.”
Lewis took over as superintendent from former superintendent Bill Banning, in July, long after water quality testing began.
During the initial phase of testing, five taps at each school site were tested. Only one tap was at an "actionable" level, according to Lewis. That tap was removed immediately and alternate water was provided.
That discovery lead to additional testing of more than 100 faucets and fixtures across the district. Ten taps that tested slightly above the "actionable" level of lead in the water were removed.
The three schools affected are Ellwood Elementary, Foothill Elementary and Hollister Elementary.
Although lead was discovered, Lewis stressed that the amount, measured in parts per billion (ppb) was very small.
"It would be like having 15 drops of tainted water in an Olympic size swimming pool," she said. "We are talking about very miniscule amounts of lead in the water.”
Nonetheless, the district decided shut off taps and removed water fountains where slightly elevated lead readings were found and provided bottled water to staff and students at the affected sites. "We are being proactive," said Lewis. "We want to make sure we have really clean water for our students."
Several "hydration stations" have already been installed indoors at a few sites.
Twenty-four "hydration stations" for outdoor use at all 9 campuses have been ordered and should be installed by January 2018.
Lewis noted that the concern is not the source of the water, but the aging fixtures which can impact water quality. The stations will remain in place even after improvements are made to faucets, fixtures and infrastructure.
Testing at Hollister Elementary School is complete and all results are posted online. Once testing is completed at the remaining schools, those results will be added.