Dear Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members,
As part of the work we do in the Munising Public Schools to attend to the health and wellbeing of all our students and staff, we have our attention on the quality of the drinking water in our schools. We are committed to achieving the lowest possible levels of lead in drinking water in the buildings of our district and take very seriously the risks associated with lead exposure, particularly with our youngest children. Therefore, this past spring, we decided to voluntarily partner with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to test all of our drinking water for lead at all locations thought to be used for drinking or food preparation, as well as all sinks/faucets and water sources in classrooms, restrooms, and staff areas.
The phases of our efforts consisted of an initial plumbing assessment that was conducted in June (22) and followed by onsite sampling of all water access points by a representative of MDHHS on July 28th. The collected water samples were then sent to the Michigan Department of EGLE for laboratory testing. The results of the testing were recently made available to us and we are already taking corrective actions to eliminate a few potential sources of lead contamination. This is not a cause for alarm. Testing is a routine way to learn about the safety of our drinking water and make improvements as necessary. Our results are very consistent with other schools in the area that have already undergone this process.
The State of Michigan currently allows up to 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead in public drinking water. With passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2018, there are efforts in place to reduce the allowable lead in public drinking water from 15 to 12 ppb by 2025. However, because of the known risks of lead exposure to children, especially those younger than six years of age, EGLE and MDHHS strongly advocate that schools and childcare centers take measures to ensure that drinking and cooking water does not exceed 5 ppb. Munising Public Schools agrees with EGLE and MDHHS and believes that there is no good level of lead.
Laboratory analysis for Munising Public Schools indicated that there are a few water access points (Mather Elementary = 3; Munising Middle-High School = 14) that tested slightly above the 5 ppb threshold. However, only one access point (@ Munising Middle-High School) tested above the allowable 15 ppb for public drinking water with a measure of 16 ppb after initial flushing. By contrast, some water access points tested in Flint during that city’s water crisis recorded incredibly high lead levels exceeding 13,200 ppb. Of the seventeen water access points with elevated levels, none of these were identified as hallway drinking fountains/bottle fill stations or cafeteria/kitchen faucets used by food service staff for meal preparation. Nearly all sources were in science and classroom sinks or storage areas with rarely used water access points.
Per EGLE and MDHHS staff, the most common source of lead in school and childcare water sources results from stagnant water that remains in contact with brass fittings and fixtures that are not regularly used or flushed. Prior to 2014, the federally permissible level of lead in brass plumbing fittings and fixtures was up to 8%. After 2014, the federally permissible level of lead in brass and brass alloy plumbing fittings and fixtures was reduced to 0.25%. Therefore, it is the goal of Munising Public Schools to keep our children and staff as safe as possible and to immediately reduce possible exposure to lead by eliminating detectable lead at all identified water access points through corrective actions.
Some of the immediate corrective actions that we have already taken include:
Posting signage at specific water access points that advises that the water is not to be used for drinking and may be used for hand washing and cleaning purposes only.
Taking certain faucets/fixtures out of service until remedied.
Ordering threaded heavy-metal faucet filters for installation upon arrival.
Some corrective actions that we will be taking in the near future include:
Replacing water access point fittings and fixtures in locations where water is needed.
Removing water access points in locations where water may no longer be needed.
Educating Students and Staff regarding the importance of letting water run for 30 seconds…
Cleaning aerators and screens more frequently.
Developing and implementing a comprehensive district water system flushing plan
Partnering again with EGLE and MDHHS to retest after corrective actions have been completed. This usually occurs within 6-12 months of the initial testing.
Please read the attached notice and for more information on reducing the risk of lead exposure, go to www.Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe. If you have questions or would like to review our test results, please call me at 906-387-2103 x2109 and/or email me at email@example.com. For additional information regarding the EGLE Water Quality Safety Initiative contact Ms. Holly Gohlke, School Drinking Water Coordinator (EGLE) at GohlkeH@Michigan.gov.
Michael J. Travis, Superintendent
Munising Public Schools