FORT WORTH - The drinking water at two more Fort Worth ISD schools has been cleared as "safe" after district-wide water quality tests revealed high levels of lead at dozens of schools earlier this year.
Fort Worth ISD tested all 127 schools over the summer and found elevated lead levels in about 5 percent of its 1,900-plus water samples.
There is no federal, state or local mandate requiring schools to test their drinking water. Fort Worth ISD voluntarily began testing a few schools in June after the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan made national headlines.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 20 parts per billion of lead in school drinking water. The district is following the City of Fort Worth's more restrictive measure of 15 parts per billion as its action level.
Fort Worth ISD's unprecedented discovery prompted immediate action. Workers shut down all contaminated water sources and no students are currently exposed to contaminated water.
However, in October, a FOX 4 Investigation uncovered the problem will take longer to fix than first believed, because in some cases, water lines need to be replaced.
FOX 4 Investigation: Fort Worth ISD still finding high levels of lead in school drinking water
New results from a November 4, 2016 lab report analyzed by FOX 4 showed that about 31 of the 127 schools tested are still waiting for a fountains or water lines to be permanently replaced.
Officials have emphasized that all students have access to clean drinking water in the meantime, whether it's through a new fountain or a temporary water stand.
School board trustee Dr. Ann Sutherland, who represents District 6, told FOX 4 Tuesday that she is confident students are not at risk and district staff are equipped to resolve the issue. Dr. Sutherland is the only school board member who agreed to speak publicly on this issue.
"We have very substantial reserves in the Fort Worth district, 21% the last time I looked, which is about 160 million dollars," Dr. Sutherland said. "We vote for the budget in June as you know, so the figures are not out on what will be done, but I can guarantee that there will be enough money to clean up these things."
The cost of the project has also been updated since the October investigation. A district spokesperson initially told FOX 4 that replacing water lines could exceed the initial amount of money budgeted for the project.
However, the district later corrected this information. A spokesperson confirmed that the project can and will be completed with the $800,000 in district funds budgeted this school year.
Testing and repairs are ongoing to bring the remaining 31 schools down to safe levels.
FOX 4 Step-by-Step Guide to Reading FWISD Water Test Results
Note: Results may be easier to read on a desktop or laptop, but the data is viewable on mobile.
- Click on the link above to access the district’s landing page.
- Halfway down the page, there is a link to updated test results. The link is updated as new results come in on a rolling basis.
- Schools are listed alphabetically.
- The three most important columns are: “Submitted,” “Location,” and “Results”
- “Submitted” is the date the water sample was submitted.
- “Location” is where in the school the sample was taken from.
- Each location has a unique ID number.
- e.g. “153-1-H” is the first sample at A.M. Pate Elementary School. “153” is the school number, “1” is the sample site, and “H” is the type of water fixture the sample came from.
- Drinking fountains are assigned a letter based on the model of the fountain. All single letters, except “P,” represent old water fountains.
- “Kit” represents a water source in a kitchen.
- “WL” represents a water line (attached to a fountain or sink).
- “P” represents a new fountain the district has installed since the start of testing.
- “Results” show the concentration of lead found in the water sample.
- The results are shown in “ug/L” or micrograms per liter. One microgram per liter is the equivalent of one part per billion.
- This column is where you look for any results above 15 parts per billion, the district’s safety level.
- According to the district, earlier results may have been skewed by human error, because district employees were still being trained by the city on how to collect water samples. This is important to note, because some earlier results may have skewed too high or too low due to human error.
- By comparing the three columns, you can see how new results compared to the original results and whether water line samples and new fountains have shown higher or lower lead samples. It is important to remember that results are coming in on a rolling basis and the status of each school is subject to change at any time.
Fort Worth ISD encourages parents with questions or concerns to call 817-814-2070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This investigation started as tip from the public. If you would like submit a tip or story idea, please email email@example.com.