News 4 Investigates: Conducting tests on public drinking water -

News 4 Investigates: Conducting tests on public drinking water

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ST. LOUIS ( -- It’s a substance that can be extremely dangerous, especially to children: lead.

Just a few weeks ago, St. Louis Public School officials told the school board they have identified nearly 90 drinking sources needing to be upgraded, after elevated levels of lead were found in the schools in August.

But where else might you or your kids be in danger of lead poisoning?

“I would like to know the water is safe to drink and hopefully it is so I don't have to worry about it,” said one resident of O’Fallon, Illinois, as his kids played in park nearby.

So with our sample bottles in hand, our News 4 Investigative team spread out to ten of the most popular parks in the St. Louis region.

Pumping the tap and pressing the buttons at various watering holes and taking careful note of the specific location.

News 4 went for areas people use a lot: the ball fields at Forest Park and near the playground at O'Fallon Community Park in Illinois.

Investigative Producer Steve Perron even went inside the St. Louis Zoo.

Sometimes, it was difficult to find a working fountain, but we tested those that looked both new and old. We had ten full bottles to ship off to the lab, all of which tested negative.

The samples came back with next to zero lead. “I have not found lead in 25 years that I have tested water,” said Jeanne Carton, manager at H2Only.

Jeanne Carton is a chemist and water testing expert. She manages a company selling filtration systems and other water solutions, so she'd benefit from telling you otherwise, but she says clearly: “You can drink from any fountain in St. Louis and your kids would be safe from drinking the water.”

The reason? The water systems are treated with lime to coat the pipes and prevent lead from seeping in.

A Flint, Michigan water crisis, she says, simply wouldn't happen here.

So what's up with lead in the schools? The problem could be with the SLPS' drinking equipment. St. Louis public schools declined to talk to us for this story, referring only to a presentation given October 20th, detailing their plan for replacing their water sources with lead-free faucets and fountains.
Officials tells News 4 that another update is coming later this month. Since the issue first came up back in August, News 4 has been keeping a close eye on other school districts.

News 4 called the following school districts. Summaries of their responses are below, unless otherwise in quotation marks. Quoted statements are verbatim responses from district representatives.


“Testing was completed by Environmental Operations on August 25, 2016, and all test spots at schools were well below the acceptable limit.”


Awaiting response.


Did complete testing on all buildings and all tests came back negative


“The Hazelwood School District has taken proactive measures to ensure the safety of students and staff by testing water at all 32 schools for possible lead contamination. The laboratory report concluded that our water was safe and no further action is required.”


“We did do their testing and we are below 0.001 to 0.000 at all water fountains.  The organization that did the testing is named Eklab Service Environmental Laboratory this school year --August and September.”


Conducted testing and results were well below acceptable standards.


“Due to recent news and concerns about levels of lead in the drinking water at public schools in the area, the Ladue School District had the water in all buildings in the district tested by Farmer Environmental Services, LLC on Sept. 7 and 8, 2016.  The conclusion on the final full report states the following:  "All sample results had detections of lead below the federal and state action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).  No further action is recommended at this time."  In fact, no faucet or water fountain tested higher than 2.9 ppb, and the vast majority were under 1.0 ppb.”


Tested 100 different sample sites and found six locations with higher than acceptable lead levels, including four not used by students. Additional information can be found here:


The district has received bids for lead testing but has not yet selected a vendor for the process.  


Tested in April and all results were negative. Will re-test in the spring.


In the process of doing testing. Excepting results at the end of the month.


In the process of testing. Results have not yet returned.


“The official results from this comprehensive testing are now available to us.  I am pleased to inform you that the test results showed that water in all of our buildings is safe, with levels well under the minimum safe standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The district contracted with specialists from John A. Jurgiel & Associates, Inc., who collected samples from each building before the school day started on Sept. 9.  The samples were then tested through a certified lab that follows protocols set by the EPA.”


Awaiting response.


During testing, all drinking fountains were found to be safe, but 17 faucets tested positive for elevated levels of lead. All have either been removed from service or repaired.

  • Rockwood has tested 202 water sources in nine of schools that were built before 1960.
  • All the drinking water fountains have been tested and shown to be safe for students.
  • Seventeen faucets were above the EPA recommended level.  (Note: Two water sources were removed from service because they were not being used anymore.)
  • Rockwood Facilities has already conducted repairs on the 15 remaining water sources.
  • Our independent environmental firm retested the remaining water sources last week, and we awaiting the second-draw results.
  • We are currently coordinating testing for our remaining locations.


Conducted testing in October. Results were below the acceptable thresholds. Did not test at Northview High because it’s a new school.


The district tested more than 200 water sources and only one returned with elevated levels of lead. The source has been remediated. 


They test regularly. Finished testing earlier this year and results were negative.


They intend to do the testing but they are in the process of gathering information and are still in the planning stages. All school will be tested, but the tests have not yet been scheduled.

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