Johnson City Schools to test water fountains for lead

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City Schools will test water fountains at all 13 of its schools next week after learning Nashville Metro Public Schools found higher levels of lead in some of its schools last year.

An independent firm will test an older and newer water fountain at every school next Friday, according to Johnson City Schools Communications and Instruction Director Dr. Debra Bentley. She said the results should be back within the first two weeks of the school year.

“We want to be proactive,” she said. “We try and stay current with what’s going on in other districts and as we learn these things, it brings us to the table to talk, ‘Is that something Johnson City should consider?’ Obviously, we don’t want our students drinking from water fountains that are not safe.”

Dr. Bentley said the tests will involve a basic screening of standing and running water.

“We have no evidence or information that has us concerned, but when the results return, we’ll be very proactive in resolving and in coming to solutions of how to repair that problem,” Dr. Bentley said. “We’ll go into phase two should the results come back questionable.”

Dr. Bentley said Johnson City’s schools are home to hundreds of water fountains. She said most of them are less than 20 years old.

Nashville Metro Schools announced it will begin testing drinking fountains this week to make sure there aren’t elevated levels of lead.

Dr. Bentley said Johnson City’s initial tests will cost less than $1,000.

At the least, public utilities in Tennessee are required to test water for lead every three years, according to a spokesperson with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Bristol, Kingsport and Sullivan County school districts said they have no plans to test for lead or they haven’t previously tested for lead. Washington County did not respond to our request for information.

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