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Drinking Water Tested, Safe at JPPSS Schools & Facilities

The water that students and staff drink on Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) campuses is safe. That’s the combined results of recent water lead tests conducted by the Louisiana Department of Health and JPPSS.

The Louisiana Department of Health recently completed testing water at Harahan Elementary and eleven other schools across the state. They found no heightened levels of lead in the drinking water. JPPSS initiated its own test this past May and June due to water quality concerns nationally and in the surrounding region. JPPSS contracted with an independent external environmental group to conduct the tests. The JPPSS test included strategically selected campuses on both the East Bank and West Bank. The JPPSS test found only one area that needed to be addressed. In that incident, the water coming into the schools was safe. One water fountain was found to be defective and was immediately replaced.

“Student safety is our top responsibility; that’s why our facilities team follows EPA guidelines and was proactive in testing the water at our schools,” said JPPSS Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “Harahan Elementary was selected for the state test because it is an older facility, but the combined age of all our buildings is 52 years. Our Operations Department and school staffs do an outstanding job caring for our aging buildings.”

The Louisiana Department of Health testing was part of a pilot program conducted in accordance with Act 632 of the 2018 State Legislature. The tests were designed to determine if older schools with aging pipes and fixtures had lead present in drinking water. All 12 elementary schools that participated in the pilot program were constructed prior to 1986.

Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer, led the team that conducted the sampling and testing and said he was pleased by the results.

“Many Louisiana communities have water systems with aging infrastructure as well as older homes. Both situations make it more likely to find lead in water due to old plumbing. When we designed this program, we fully expected to find some instance of elevated lead because we purposefully selected schools that had older pipes and plumbing. The fact that we did not find any instances of elevated lead in the drinking water of these 12 schools is extremely encouraging.”

The Department worked with local school districts and school superintendents to find schools that met the testing criteria. Schools that have not had plumbing upgrades since 1986 were selected for testing. Drinking water staff from the Department of Health began drawing water samples from the schools over the past two weeks. Samples were taken from several locations, including sources before drinking water enters the school and also from taps within the school, allowing officials to determine if the lead is coming from the water source, the plumbing fixtures or the plumbing inside the school.

The samples were analyzed for lead at the Department’s laboratory in Baton Rouge. The full results, along with frequently asked questions are available on the Department’s website, www.ldh.la.gov/schooldrinkingwater.