Back in early 2016, the issue of lead in drinking water in public schools around the province got a lot of attention, but it looks like school districts responded quickly and the problem has been greatly reduced -For the most part.
I say reduced because it hasn’t totally been dealt with in all provincial schools.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice was quick to jump on the issue, raising it in the legislature on numerous occasions. Rice tried to get the Clark government to act, but they seemed confused with the education minister of the day claiming the issue was news to him, while the staff contradicted him noting the ministry was aware of the problem.
The government did eventually act last year when they ordered mandatory testing of all public schools.
Lead can leach from older plumbing. The code was changed to address the problem in 1990 so, all schools built before that date are potentially at risk of elevated lead levels. The most recent comprehensive test results on the state of water in schools are from 2016 and earlier this year and more results are expected later this year.
According to the testing, 46 tests were carried out in Rupert with only 4 showing higher than allowable levels and, even then, the levels were under 10 per cent above the Health Canada limits. Testing was also carried out on Haida Gwaii where 13 tests were conducted and only one came back above the allowable limit, Nechako Lakes saw 78 tests with four over the limit and Quesnel had 26 tests done with one showing elevated limits. All of the levels recorded were under 10 per cent of allowable limits.
There were two lists prepared from the tests, and Prince Rupert isn’t on either. Cameron Macintyre the secretary-treasurer for school district 52 says work was underway in Rupert schools before the mandatory testing was ordered. He says mitigation was carried out and over the summer the tests indicated safe levels.