Education PO Box 2703, Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6 19, February 2019 Re: Water testing at Wood Street Centre
The Government of Yukon has completed mitigation work at Wood Street Centre following our water testing at each water fixture during the summer. Mitigation work: Seven water fixtures at Wood Street Centre were initially flagged for replacement. They have been replaced and retested to ensure the new water fixtures addressed the issue. Follow-up test results: The follow up testing of the new water fixtures show they have resolved the issue and are safe for drinking and cooking. Students and staff can resume use of these fixtures. More information: More information is available on the Department of Education’s website at education.gov.yk.ca/water-testing.html.
Purpose of the testing Just a reminder that the purpose of the testing was to identify any older water fixtures that might be leaching lead into the water at our schools and requiring upgrading. The test we have performed shows us a worst case scenario for lead in the water. It does not represent the average lead levels in the water. This was a pass/fail test and the water fixtures that tested above the national standards have failed the test and are being replaced. We know the water entering the building is safe because it is tested by the municipality. The high results at some water fixtures does not represent the actual lead concentrations in the water. The levels drop when the water system is flushed and we see lower test results at other fixtures that do not need to be replaced. On a regular school day, when water is being used more regularly, lead is being flushed out of the system.
Why not a flushing protocol? Some schools have asked about flushing the water fixtures. Health Canada recommends running a tap (which flushes the system) for at least one minute when taking water for drinking or cooking. This eliminates the lead that can leach into the water from the plumbing materials when it sits stagnant in the system. Some schools in Ontario are using a flushing protocol like this to address the issue of lead leaching in from their plumbing materials. Instead of putting Yukon schools on a flushing protocol, which requires ongoing staff resources and meticulous record keeping, we are replacing water fixtures so we can solve this issue for the long-term. All schools still have drinking fountains or water fixtures for drinking water, so it is not necessary to use a flushing protocol at the fixtures that tested high. Instead, we have put interim measures in place such as signs at fixtures that are okay for washing and shutting off water fountains that tested high. These measures will remain in place until the fixtures are replaced and retested to ensure they are safe to continue using without the need to flush. Students and staff should take their water from the safe fixtures and fountains.
Health information: The Chief Medical Officer of Health has advised that there is no short-term risk to health associated with water fixtures that tested above the national standards. Occasionally drinking water from these fixtures would not be enough to significantly affect the health of students or staff. However, we recognize it is important to have these fixtures replaced so we can reduce the amount of lead that can leach into the water at our schools.