• Keeping our water safe

    The Webster Groves School District is committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff. In alignment with that commitment and in compliance with the new Missouri state law, “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act,” over the winter break we had a professional environmental consulting firm initiate and complete testing of our water. Specifically, each possible drinking and food preparation source in our schools and buildings was sampled and tested to determine if the lead concentration in the water was above the required action level of five parts per billion (5 ppb), which is equal to 5 micrograms per liter. The 5 ppb level required by the state is below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recommended action level of 15 ppb. 

    While the law specifies that all preschool through 12th grade schools that receive state funding have until August 1, 2024 to complete testing at all drinking water outlets and food preparation outlets, we acted promptly, in accordance with our commitment to protecting our community, and tested each outlet to ensure we could immediately initiate remedial measures as needed.

    From December 22-30, each of our buildings had its water outlets of possible drinking and food preparation water tested, including ice machines. Of the 383 water outlets tested, 84% (321 outlets) tested below the statutory level of 5 ppb. Of the 383 water outlets tested, 97% (370 outlets) tested below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 15 ppb.

    Upon receiving the results at the end of last week, each of these water sources was taken out of service by our district facilities team. At this time, we have already begun working with an outside company to remediate each source needing attention. Prior to being used again, water from each source will be tested to ensure the issue has been resolved. We will communicate additional results after testing takes place.

    Please know the safety and health of our students and staff is our highest priority and we will work diligently to rectify every source that is out of compliance. In the meantime, all students and staff will continue to have access to a variety of water outlets that have met compliance, throughout the school.

    If you have questions about a lead sample result at a specific outlet and actions taken, or if you have concerns, please email connect@wgmail.org. 

    If you have questions regarding the health of your child or for additional information regarding lead testing, please contact your primary healthcare provider or the South County Health Center at 314-615-0400.

    Test results by building are listed below:

    Walter Ambrose Family Center (testing showed zero water outlets over 5 ppb)
    Avery Elementary
    Bristol Elementary
    Clark Elementary
    Edgar Road Elementary
    Givens Elementary
    Hudson Elementary
    Hixson Middle
    Webster Groves High School
    17 Selma (testing showed zero water outlets over 5 ppb)
    Central Office
    Service Center (testing showed zero water outlets over 5 ppb)
    Facilities Warehouse

    Additional resources
    Lead is rarely found in source water like ground water or rivers. Typically, lead in water is the result of corrosion, or the wearing away, of lead-containing materials in the water distribution system such as pipes and faucets. Since 1986, all plumbing materials must be “lead-free”. The law currently allows plumbing materials to be up to 0.25 percent lead to be labeled as “lead-free”. While there are fewer amounts of lead used in newer water distribution systems, corrosion still occurs. When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into the drinking water. In such circumstances, the first water drawn from a tap in the morning typically contains the highest traces of lead.

    Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure. The EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead. According to the EPA (www.epa.gov), children of any age are susceptible to the effects of lead, with children under the age of 6 being most at risk. While effects may vary in scope and severity, the EPA reports that lead might lead to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the impact of lead exposure on children can be impacted by a variety of factors including age, nutrition, the source of exposure, length of time of the exposure, and other underlying health conditions. Elevated levels of lead in women who are pregnant can also be harmful, possibly severely, to both babies and mothers. Your physician or healthcare provider can provide additional information regarding the effects of lead exposure and, with respect to one’s health history, whether testing for lead should be considered.

    Useful information:

    Official statute language - https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=160.077&srch=y
    Basic information about lead in drinking water https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water
    Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services https://health.mo.gov/living/environment/lead/publications.php
    St. Louis County Department of Health lead information https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/public-health/environmental-services/healthy-homes/lead-poisoning-prevention/