Mostly good news in C-R lead tests


By Jim Poole

Cobleskill-Richmondville last week received the report on lead in its schools' water, and the news isn't good.
But the news isn't all that bad, either.
Of the 704 water outlets in Ryder, Radez, Golding and the High School, 173, or nearly 25 percent, were found to have lead levels higher than the state standard.
However, more than half of the 173 are lab sinks in Golding and the High School, and students don't drink from those.
As for the rest, C-R has already turned them off or marked them for hand-washing only.
Also, all kitchen outlets passed the test, so those used for cooking are safe, Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said.
All schools must perform the tests, which were mandated by the state and came at Governor Andrew Cuomo's insistence after water crises in Flint, Michigan, and Hoosick Falls earlier this year, according to Mr. Mummenthey.
The C-R tests cost $10,560, though about 70 percent of that will be reimbursed by Albany, Mr. Mummenthey said.
He's more concerned about the remediation--discovering which water pipes are causing problems and then removing and replacing them.
"Maybe it's a supply line in some cases," Mr. Mummenthey said. "It's just going to be trial and error."
A few outlets will be re-tested. For instance, in one school, three fountains are on one line, and one was found to have higher lead levels. Re-testing may clarify why all three don't have the same test results.
Several outlets have a hot-water mixer, and hot water generally has a higher lead content. C-R will turn off the mixer and test the cold water on those, Mr. Mummmethey said.
He gave a rough guesstimate that remediation may cost four times--about $50,000--what the tests did.
Although Mr. Mummenthey said C-R "is committed to work tirelessly" until all outlets are within the state standard, he questioned the necessity of working on outlets that were just over the state limit of 15 parts of lead per billion.
At Ryder School, three outlets tested at 16.4, 15.4 and 17.2 parts per billion.
"Is it really relevant" to fix those? Mr. Mummenthey asked, adding that C-R would do as the state required.
He also suggested the tests might have been cheaper if the state had staggered the tests for school districts. All 700-plus districts had to perform the tests at the same time, meaning that private labs had to handle tens of thousands of water samples.
"The labs probably had to hire more people, and that drove the costs up," Mr. Mummenthey said. "If they had alphabetized school districts and done them in groups, it might not have cost so much."