District 202 will test the water in all 32 of its schools and district facilities in early May to comply with a new state law enacted in response to the significant problems with water in Flint, Michigan.
The new law, which took effect this January, requires water sampling to be done by December 31 in schools serving preschool through fifth grade students built before January 1, 1987.
The new law also requires testing to be done by December 31, 2018 in schools serving children from preschool through grade 5 built between January 2, 1987 and January 1, 2000.
The law does not address schools built after 2000. However the Legislature has the option to change the law until June 30, 2019.
District 202 will test the water in all of its facilities at once rather than wait another year, although there are no concerns about the quality or safety of district water, district officials said.
“This is an important and appropriate step to take to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lane Abrell.
Testing will be done through May 9. Environmental Services Inc. (ESI) of LaGrange, Illinois will test the water at about 1,900 drinking fountains and commercial sinks in District 202’s 30 schools, the District 202 Administrative Center, Operations and Maintenance facility and the Technology building.
The testing will be done around 6 a.m. to ensure proper water flow and testing, as required by law. Results will be publicly reported by the end of May and posted on the district web site in early June.
Coincidentally, the water was tested last fall at Crystal Lawns Elementary because it was cloudy. Test results showed no problems.
The new law created some confusion because District 202 has buildings that fall into both age categories, but which are not elementary schools, and many that were built after 2000.
Nineteen of District 202’s 30 schools, and the Freshman Center at Plainfield High School – Central Campus opened in 2000 or later, during the district’s heavy growth period from 1997-2008.
District 202 officials held off on testing water earlier this winter to seek legal clarification and ensure appropriate compliance with the new law.
The new law also requires local school districts to pay for the testing. Testing will cost about $65,000. The law does not provide state funding for the tests, but allows school districts to use budgeted Health/Life Safety or Operations and Maintenance funds to pay for the sampling.
Prior to the new law, the water quality in all District 202 facilities met all state and federal regulations. The old rules focused more on the quality of the water at the source of the supply – usually the municipality providing the water – rather than at the eventual outlets in public buildings.