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False alarm declared after Healdsburg school's water tests high for lead

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High levels of lead were discovered Thursday inside Healdsburg Elementary School's main building, but district officials now say the levels were safe and parents are breathing a sigh of relief. (KGO-TV )

High levels of lead were discovered Thursday inside Healdsburg Elementary School's main building. District officials now say the levels were safe and parents are breathing a sigh of relief.

The elementary school scare that became a false alarm still has both parents and administrators asking hard questions.

"When we first saw the fountains we thought, oh, they're just giving the kids fresher water," said Matthew Costa, a parent.

Not exactly. By the time the drinking fountains turned off and the water bottles appeared, the Healdsburg Unified School District already suspected a problem due to cloudy water at 80-year-old Healdsburg Elementary School. When a test came back Monday it showed lead at 53 times the safe federal levels and it became a crisis. But not for long; a second test by county health officials proved it wrong.

"There are trace amounts, but we're well within EPA standards," said Chris Vanden Heuvel, school district superintendent said.

No one can yet explain the testing discrepancy, but that is not the issue among parents. They're pleased with how the school dealt with a potential problem, but they're concerned the school knew about it in November. Parents knew nothing until this week.

"Based on what was stated that they did bring in water bottles, having the food washed at the high school. Those are all wonderful things that the community would have celebrated, that they handled it that way. We had no idea any of this was going on, that I think was the problem."

Vanden Heuvel said they didn't notify parents because they "wanted to have a plan in place to remediate problems. Obviously we had taken care of any short term risks. No student was taking in any water that was even questionable anymore."

For now, the cause of these concerns remains as cloudy as the water that initially created them.

Related Topics:
educationwaterdrinking waterparentingHealdsburg
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