Ten water fountains in three local schools were taken out of service recently for failing water quality tests. Black Press File Photo

The pipes aren’t the problem

Water quality issues in Campbell River school fountains caused by the fountains themselves

The Campbell River School District’s drinking water problem at Robron Centre has been determined to be due to the water fountains themselves and does not extend further back into the pipes.

As first reported in the Mirror in late September, 10 water fountains in three local schools were taken out of service for failing water quality tests. The district was waiting on a secondary set of tests back to ensure the problem was, in fact, in the fountains and not deeper in the facility’s water system, which superintendent of schools, Tom Longridge, said at the time, “would be a different mitigation challenge for us that we would then take care of.”

Now that it has been determined that the fountains themselves were, in fact, the problem, the district has decided to replace three of the problem fountains at Robron Centre with two new stainless steel water bottle filling stations. Three other fountains will be replaced with new units. Island Health has informed the district that the existing units can still be used while they await delivery of the new units provided the existing fountains are flushed for two minutes every day and there is signage placed on the fountains instructing users to run the fountain for one minute prior to consuming the water.

The district is also installing an automatic flushing system in the shop to ensure water cycled from the shop to the gymnasium does not go stagnant.

The levels of contaminants found in the fountains at all the facilities in question, including two at Cedar Elementary and two at École des Deux Mondes (EDM) were determined to be due to them also being “low flow,” Longridge told the board at its last public meeting, which means not enough water was running through their pipes. After discussing the matter with the principals of those schools, it has been decided the fountains at Cedar will be removed and the ones at EDM will be replaced.

Longridge also says the district takes water quality very seriously and credited safety officer Paul Reid and Island Health for “making sure the water that students have access to is safe, frequently tested and any problems that are arise are immediately remediated.”

This is the second straight year that water fountains have been found to be needing attention. Two district water fountains – the one in the gymnasium at Pinecrest Elementary and one in the school district office – were discovered to have been outside of compliance levels last year. Pinecrest’s was replaced while the one in the SD72 office was simply removed.