April 20, 2017

Dear Tukwila School District community,

I am very happy to report that our drinking water is safe! In the fall, I let you know that we were about to start a comprehensive test of lead levels in our facilities’ drinking water, and now we have the results. The Tukwila School District had a clean check of its water system several years ago; however, in light of urgent national and local concerns about lead levels in children’s drinking water, I felt we needed another current round of testing to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

We took 111 water samples from all of our schools and facilities. This included all potable water in drinking fountains, kitchens, and staff rooms. We also tested 25 percent of classroom sinks and taps. All these water samples tested well within safe levels, with two irregularities.

To provide context, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggest that schools take action to reduce lead if any water outlet contains more than 20 parts per billion (20 ppb). (For comparison, one of the highest readings at a home in Flint, MI, last year was 13,000 ppb.) The first of our testing irregularities was in a Showalter classroom. The sink there had not been used for several years, and the accumulating deposits in the faucet caused a reading of 20.3 ppb for lead. After thoroughly flushing the pipe with water, follow-up testing indicated safe drinking water (9 ppb).

We found the second irregularity in a certain brand of “bubbler” (faucet) in a classroom at Foster High School. The bubbler was made before 1986, when lead parts were still allowed in plumbing materials. Water from this bubbler showed a 28.1 ppb lead level. We have since replaced that bubbler, and, for precaution, all bubblers from that manufacturer and/or production date in our facilities. Another round of testing showed the problem had been fixed, with a range of 0.1 to 2.6 ppb of lead with the new bubblers.

I commend our Maintenance and Operations leader, Liliana Cardenas, and her crew for thoroughly supporting the water-testing effort throughout the fall and winter. High levels of lead in drinking water can cause serious health problems, especially for young children. We are all committed in the Tukwila School District to making sure that our water is safe.

AmTest Laboratories in Kirkland, WA—accredited by the Washington State Department of Ecology—completed the testing.

In service,

Dr. Nancy Coogan, Superintendent