Lead in the Water


A water fountain deemed unsafe to drink in the cafeteria.

By Caleb Ellison, Staff Writer

Lead levels are deemed non-consumable in eleven water outlets, including one drinking fountain, in Old Mill High School.

On November 21st, 2018, nearly 150 water samples in Old Mill were collected for lead testing. Ten sources of elevated lead in the building came from bathroom sinks, and one source was a drinking fountain in the school cafeteria. These lead samples are still being collected by the county through March 2019. To get faster results, AACPS hired a 2nd company, whose purpose is to collect and test samples.

The recent County-wide lead testing marks the first time AACPS has conducted something like this.  And unfortunately, Old Mill isn’t the only school in the county with elevated levels of lead. Old Mill’s problems mostly come from their outdoor sources called spigots. The

spigots with elevated lead detected have been tagged with “Do Not Drink” signs. These spigots are going to be the most challenging part to try and fix. Due to the fact the spigot valves are made from brass, brass uses lead to aide its functionality.

A spigot on the outside of the school building tagged with “Do Not Drink”.

“The pipes are fine. It’s when the water comes out is when lead is found,” said school business manager Mr. Moede.

The water supply in the football stadium is clean for Old Mill, however other high schools aren’t as fortunate. According Mr. Moede “There are failed fieldhouses in other schools.”

“I think it’s just a scheme by the school, so they can sell more water bottles,” said sophomore Isabella Salefski. While this may be pure speculation, considering the fact that the only indoor water source found with elevated levels of lead has already been tagged as not safe, it’s a wonder what exactly causes the water to be faulty.

It could just be the fact of what kind of workload the building has, being constructed in 1976, housing a high school and 2 middle schools, there’s more than enough happening at any given time for something to go wrong in the school.

“We want 0% lead,” said Mr. Moede. And while zero lead may just be a wish, the hard-working staff at Old Mill is doing whatever they can to reach 0% lead content.