Testing drinking water at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for lead and copper

July 15, 2016

Joint News Release

Water Tested at Schools Built Prior to 1986

                                   Ten facilities tested, no lead detections                                    

Chapel Hill, NC – As part of its commitment to the safety and wellness of students and staff, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools recently undertook a water testing project at its ten oldest sites. These facilities were all built prior to 1986, the year lead solder was banned.

The school district partnered with the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA), a public, non-profit agency that provides water, sewer and reclaimed water services to the community, to conduct the testing.

"We greatly appreciate OWASA's expertise in guiding us through this process," said Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese. "We always want to be sure our students and staff have safe drinking water at every school, and we are very happy with the results of the testing."

School district maintenance staff collected 167 water samples from sinks and water fountains throughout the ten facilities and sent the samples to OWASA, which contracted with a certified private laboratory for analysis.

OWASA recently concluded that no lead was found. The water was also tested for copper, which was detected in 37 samples.  However, every copper level was below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) action level and maximum contaminant level goal of 1.3 parts per million. 

Buildings where water samples were gathered for testing

Carrboro Elementary School

Chapel Hill High School

Culbreth Middle School

Ephesus Elementary School

Estes Hills Elementary School

Frank Porter Graham Elementary School

Glenwood Elementary School

Lincoln Center (administrative offices)

Phillips Middle School

Seawell Elementary School 

Background information

For more than 20 years, OWASA has tested for lead in drinking water leaving the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant. To date, no lead has been found.  However, lead can be released into water from solder in pre-1986 plumbing systems and from plumbing fixtures containing lead. Copper can be released into water from copper pipes and brass fittings.  To minimize the potential for lead and copper release into drinking water, OWASA adds to its water a phosphate compound which forms a protective coating in pipes and fixtures. OWASA also controls the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of its water and carefully manages water chemistry as part of the corrosion control program.

For more information

Orange Water and Sewer Authority

Katie Harrold, Laboratory Supervisor at the Jones Ferry Water Treatment Plant

kharrold@owasa.org or 919-537-4227

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

Dr. Todd LoFrese, Assistant Superintendent

tlofrese@chccs.k12.nc.us or 919-967-8211