Extensive second round of water testing completed at elementary school in Howell

Majority of samples show no lead or below EPA action level; 3 sites test above


HOWELL, Mich. – The second round of water testing at Northwest Elementary School in Howell showed a majority of samples with either no detection of lead or amounts that were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level.

The EPA’s action level is 15 parts per billion (ppb).

There were 30 samples taken from 23 sites within the school. Three of the samples came back above the EPA action level at 19 ppb, 24 ppb and 130 ppb. The samples were from seldom used fixtures.

Samples were tested by two independent state certified laboratories.

The result that returned at 19 ppb was from a drinking fountain, the sample that tested at 24 ppb was from a nonpublic consumption point and the result that returned 130 ppb was from a sink.

It is believed that the fixtures in those locations are the cause of the positive test results.

Any fixture where a water sample returned positive for lead, even those that were below the EPA action level, are being replaced and will remain out of service until that occurs.

Water coolers and portable water at the school will be maintained until the fixtures have been replaced.

“Following initial tests that came back positive for lead, we began extensive water testing at Northwest Elementary. The majority of results from the second round of tests showed no detection of lead or were below the EPA’s action level. Two samples did show levels above the EPA’s action level” said Erin MacGregor, Howell Public Schools, superintendent. “While the majority of tests that came back positive for lead were below the EPA’s action level, they are unacceptable to us. We will immediately begin replacing any fixture that tested positive for lead, even those that were below the EPA’s action level. Until each of these fixtures has been replaced, we will continue to maintain water coolers and bottled water at the school to ensure that our students and staff have access to safe drinking water.”

In 2012, the city of Howell replaced the water main feeding Northwest Elementary School and was able to verify during the construction that the connection met current EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality standards.

“I would like to thank the City of Howell and the Livingston County Health Department for their support during this process. Both organizations have been instrumental in providing assistance and guidance to our district as we work to ensure that all students have access to safe drinking water,” said MacGregor.

Water tests from Southeast, Southwest and Challenger elementary schools came back as with no detection of lead in the water. Howell Public Schools is continuing to complete water testing at its buildings.