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FAQs

From where does VBCPS get its water supply?
Water service for all of Virginia Beach City Public Schools is provided from the municipal water supply. City of Virginia Beach Public Utilities meets the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards according to the latest published water quality reports.

When did VBCPS start testing water for lead?
The division began testing samples from drinking water sources in our schools during the 2016–2017 school year. All samples collected at that time met state and federal lead-level limits, which are less than 15 parts per billion (ppb). 

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1359 requiring school divisions to test specific potable water sources for lead.

Which of these schools had water tested in the summer of 2019?
Alanton Elementary School, Bayside 6th Grade Campus, Bayside High School, Bayside Middle School, Brandon Middle School, Creeds Elementary School, Fairfield Elementary School, First Colonial High School, Green Run Elementary School, Holland Elementary School, Independence Middle School, Kempsville Elementary School, Kempsville Middle School, Kings Grant Elementary School, Kingston Elementary School, Laskin Road Annex, Luxford Elementary School, Lynnhaven Elementary School, Lynnhaven Middle School, Malibu Elementary School, North Landing Elementary School, Pembroke Elementary School, Pembroke Meadows Elementary School, Plaza Middle School, Point O’View Elementary School, Princess Anne Elementary School, Princess Anne High School, Princess Anne Middle School, Shelton Park Elementary School, Technical and Career Education Center, Thalia Elementary School, Trantwood Elementary School  and Bettie F. Williams Elementary School.

Which of these schools had drinking water sources with lead levels above 15 ppb?
Bayside High School, Bayside Middle School, Creeds Elementary School, Fairfield Elementary School, First Colonial High School, Green Run Elementary School, Holland Elementary School, Independence Middle School, Kempsville Middle School, King's Grant Elementary School, Kingston Elementary School, Laskin Road Annex, Lynnhaven Elementary School, Lynnhaven Middle School, Malibu Elementary School, North Landing Elementary School, Pembroke Elementary School, Pembroke Meadows Elementary School, Plaza Middle School, Princess Anne Elementary School, Princess Anne High School, Princess Anne Middle School, Shelton Park Elementary School, Trantwood Elementary School and Bettie F. Williams Elementary School.

What has been done at these schools to address the water issues?
Fixtures have been taken offline or replaced and re-tested to ensure the safety of our students. All water sources for drinking and food prep have since tested below the 15 ppb threshold.

Water sources that are not intended for drinking or food prep (showers, lab sinks, etc.) will be clearly identified as “Not for drinking or cooking.” This does not mean that the water is untreated, it just means that water from that source was not at any time intended for drinking or food preparation.

As part of our regular testing process, we have implemented a flushing program that will take place monthly and during summer, winter and spring breaks. It means that during those times, the custodial staff will make sure that all sources providing water intended for consumption will be turned on for a few minutes. This practice is recommended by the EPA to keep drinking water regularly moving through pipes where there is not daily use.
 

 When were testing results received?
The results from the summer testing cycle were received between mid-September and mid-October. Senior leadership was made aware of the results on October 25th.  Within hours, corrective action on drinking and food-prep water sources that exceeded the 15 ppb threshold began. Sources were either repaired immediately and retested or shut off entirely until repairs could be made and the water retested. Any source that could not be repaired, or where water retesting did not produce levels below 15 ppb, was shut off permanently. It’s important for the public to understand that after the initial round of testing results came back, we took corrective action and continued to retest until we were able to verify that all food preparation and drinking water sites had below actionable lead-levels.
 
The gap of time between when results came in and remediation started is something leadership will review and improve on as this water testing process evolves.

Where can I see the testing results?
The results are available online and are updated as the testing process continues. 
 
Why did it take 12 days for the school division to notify parents?
The 12-day gap between when senior leadership received the information on October 25 and when we notified the community on November 6 occurred because we first wanted to prioritize taking action to secure the impacted sites and ensure our students and others did not have access to them. The next step was to develop a communication plan that would address anticipated questions from both internal and external stakeholders. We needed to work with our partners at the Virginia Beach Health Department, Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Beach Public Utilities to develop a communication plan that was both comprehensive and accurate. Between October 25 and November 6 students did not have access to water sources with actionable lead levels. 

UpdateWhile reviewing the results from our initial water testing, VBCPS found 10 additional sources with actionable lead levels that had been misidentified as non-drinking or food prep sources. They have since been secured. Corrections and retesting are in progress. 

When will the remaining schools built before 1986 be tested?

The goal is to have schools and buildings built in or before 1986 tested by January, 2020. 

The goal is to have all remaining schools and buildings tested by the end of the school year.

The schedule is at vbschools.com/safewater.

What if my young child drank water from these sources?
It is important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency actionable level of 15 ppb of lead in water is markedly below levels that would pose a risk to children.  This is an intentional action to ensure the safety of children.  VBCPS has been advised by the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health and the University of Virginia’s Clinical Toxicology Program that, based upon reported water lead concentrations, the risk of elevated lead concentrations in children solely from school water consumption, is very low. 

The risk to an individual child from exposure to elevated lead in drinking water depends on many factors, including a child’s age, the amount of water consumed and the amount of lead in the water. Please talk to your doctor or health care provider for more information about whether a blood test is necessary. The primary source of exposure to children is through the dust from deteriorating lead-based paint. Houses or childcare centers built before 1978 may have lead-based paint on walls, doors, windows, and sills. According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have only been three cases of lead poisoning reported in 2019, none of which were in school-aged children. Also, none were water related.

What about adults and older children? 
Please consult your doctor or health care provider for more information about whether a blood test is necessary.

It is important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency actionable level of 15 ppb of lead in water is markedly below levels that would pose a risk to children.  This is an intentional action to ensure the safety of children.  VBCPS has been advised by the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health and the University of Virginia’s Clinical Toxicology Program that, based upon reported water lead concentrations, the risk of elevated lead concentrations in children solely from school water consumption, is very low. 

It is good practice, when drinking from a water fountain, or getting water from any source intended for consumption, to let the water run for a few seconds. This applies anywhere, not just in school buildings. 

More resources:
VBCPS questions, 757-263-2200, available weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Virginia Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Environmental Protection Agency

The National Lead Information Center provides information about lead, lead hazards and their prevention. Specialists are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (except federal holidays) at 1-(800)-424-LEAD [5323].