Vancouver School Board (VSB) is committed to ensuring a safe supply of water to students and staff. Lead levels are extremely low in Vancouver’s water supply, particularly since Metro Vancouver started to neutralize its water in 2011. That same year, and again in 2015, VSB conducted random water tests, which showed lead levels within or below acceptable levels (.01 parts per million).
In 2016, VSB worked with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) to conduct another round of water quality tests. VSB has completed testing of 254 water outlets at 87 of its 110 schools. Samples were taken at schools built before 1990, when the use of lead solder in pipes was restricted in the BC plumbing code.
These tests were done on the most vulnerable fountains and sinks which are furthest from the water supply source, where water was most likely to sit in pipes for longer. Samples were collected in the morning, before water was run, and sent to an independent lab for testing. VCH also conducted random tests at 21 schools.
With the 2016 testing, first samples showed 94 per cent of results came in well within acceptable levels of lead for safe drinking water. At 12 drinking fountains, where initial samples tested at or above the acceptable level, retests after water was run until cold showed all samples tested within acceptable levels for safe drinking water. VSB protocols require building engineers to flush drinking fountains every day.
As a precaution, drinking fountains where initial tests registered above acceptable levels were closed off.
The fountains with initial samples at or above acceptable levels:
|School||Test results (click)||Action taken|
|Graham D. Bruce Elementary||Results||Turned off|
|Sir Guy Carleton Elementary||Results||Turned off|
|Carnarvon Elementary||Results||Turned off|
|Captain James Cook Elementary||Results||Turned off|
|Garibaldi Annex||Results||Turned off|
|Ideal Mini School||Results||Replaced with water bottle filling station|
|John Oliver Secondary||Results||Turned off|
|Point Grey Secondary||Results||Turned off|
|Templeton Secondary||Results||Turned off|
|Total Education||Results||Turned off|
|Dr. George M Weir Elementary||Results||Turned off|
|Champlain Heights Elementary||VCH test||Turned off|
Two sinks that tested above acceptable levels were marked as not for drinking water. They are at:
- Mount Pleasant Elementary
- Southlands Elementary
Certified lab data of all VSB’s results is available here.
VSB continues to work with VCH and follow their advice about flushing, testing and monitoring water. VSB has also taken extra steps beyond VCH’s recommendations to strengthen protocols and ensure ongoing access to clean drinking water:
- The daily protocol for school building engineers to flush fountains has been strengthened and reinforced. To remove stagnant water from pipes, building engineers run fountains for two minutes before the school day begins and two minutes again before lunch. This regular maintenance procedure is verified and recorded.
- As an extra precaution, the drinking fountains where first samples tested above acceptable levels have been closed off in areas where other fountains are easily accessible. If no other fountain is nearby, trickling devices to keep the water flushing have been installed. Retests show water in trickled fountains is well within acceptable levels.
- Fountains with trickling devices will be replaced by bottle filling stations before the end of the 2016 calendar year.
- All secondary schools have water bottle filling stations which filter water and are flushed for two minutes prior to use each day by the school’s building engineer.
- The two sinks that tested above acceptable levels will not be used for drinking water and have had signs placed to that effect.
Whenever old pipes are replaced for any reason, such as during renovations, seismic upgrades or new school construction, copper pipe that contains no lead solder is used.
While VCH is satisfied with VSB’s protocols and results, VSB will continue to be diligent in its approach. Over and above new Ministry of Education guidelines, all active fountains in VSB facilities built before 1990 will be tested by the end of the 2016-17 school year.