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BCSD Officials Discuss Elevated Lead Levels

By Kerry Longobucco.
Elevated levels of lead caused more than 30 water sources in the Binghamton city school district to be shut down. District officials say they decided to investigate the water after high lead levels were found in two Ithaca schools.

School districts aren't required by law to test their water -- but Binghamton's district officials say they had a moral obligation to do just that.

Testing this month found elevated lead levels in thirty water sources -- including two drinking sources: One in a second floor hallway at Horace Mann Elementary, and the other in the Calvin Coolidge Elementary nurse's office.

Earlier in February, Binghamton district officials reviewed results from when the water was last tested in June 2013. Back then, thirty sources were found to have lead content above acceptable levels.

This month, the district shut off those 30 sources, and retested. After retesting, all those sources were restored -- with the exception of two that were shut down permanently: one at the high school concession stand, and another in a storage facility at the high school's building D.

Martinez says she doesn't believe parents should be worried -- but understands some are concerned.

"That's a decision that parents have to make for themselves, and if they are worried, we have plenty of information posted on our website," BCSD superintendent Marion Martinez said. "But if they are worried, we would encourage them to contact their family physician."

But city officials say there's no need to fear Binghamton City water. The Water/sewer Department says water transmission conditions within the district were to blame -- not the public water supply.

The city's latest water quality report showed lead and copper levels were below any required action level for treatment in 2012. The water will be retested in June.

BCSD will adopt new guidelines to ensure the quality of it's drinking water. All drinking sources will be clearly labeled, and, the district will test its water a minimum of once every three years. The district also plans to test all drinking sources, including the field houses -- Alumni Stadium and West Middle School Fieldhouse.