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Briarcliff Schools Not Panicked Over Lead Levels


Two Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District buildings recently shut off several water sources due to the detection of high levels of lead, according to a report from New Jersey-based engineering firm Louis Berger. District-wide testing revealed that five water sources at Todd Elementary School and one at Briarcliff High School exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “action level” for lead of 15 parts per billion.

An initial test this past April, conducted in response to public concerns raised by the discovery of elevated lead levels in the drinking water of Newark, NJ schools, showed high lead levels in three water fountains at Todd Elementary. However, as Louis Berger’s findings detail, those results were based on “morning, first-draw” water samples, which typically reflect the worst-case scenario. After running the water for 30 seconds, only one of the fountains still registered an elevated count.

A second round of testing conducted on May 6 newly revealed high levels in a locker room fountain at Briarcliff, as well as five additional fountains at Todd Elementary. Out of these six sources, only the locker room fixture and one hallway fountain at Todd still showed high levels after subsequent inspection. And according to Briarcliff Superintendent Dr. James Kaishian, all six fountains were turned off until further testing is completed. 

“We simply wanted to get on top of the issue, and I am relieved to say that the scope is not to the extent that we had to shut off the entire district’s water sources,” Kaishian tells Westchester. “Our intention is to ensure that all drinking water district-wide conforms to EPA standards. We plan to implement periodic testing as part of our general maintenance program.”

The Berger study concluded that, “The source of the lead is not from the pipes in the immediate area, but from a source further downstream,” and recommended that Todd Elementary establish a flushing program for their interior plumbing. Moreover, the firm has advised the district to create a detailed plumbing profile for each of their schools to help in instances that require immediate action, plus periodic testing programs. 

This news comes on the heels of a similar Berger study in New Rochelle that found eight fountains with elevated lead levels at George Davis Elementary School, two of which still reflected that data upon further testing, as well as faucets and fountains being shut off at 39 Yonkers public schools. We’ll continue to update you on all three districts as more information is provided. 


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