District Monitoring Lead in Water at East Derry Memorial

The Derry Cooperative School District is making progress in its efforts to treat the water system at East Derry Memorial Elementary School, after lead was found in the system during a routine screening last fall.

Superintendent Laura Nelson gave an update on the remedial efforts at the March 22 School Board meeting.

On Nov. 25, a routine lead and copper screening by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) revealed inconsistent results compared with prior screenings. East Derry Memorial’s library work room, room 103 and room 110 were reported to have more than 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead.

A retest in January found high ppb in the library work room, room 103, room 110 and the cafeteria hand sink, while a retest of room 105 found the ppb dropped from the original 29 to 6 ppb. On Feb. 5 the remaining faucets were tested and rooms 101 and 108 were also found to contain more than 15 ppb.

While a Corrective Action Plan was required by the state by June 20, the district immediately began working with the DES. One of the faucets was already in the process of being replaced. The other six faucets, including one in a cafeteria hand sink, were replaced over February vacation and the phosphate system was installed Feb. 25.

The district held an information session for parents on Feb. 1 and on Feb. 9, Business Administrator Jane Simard met with representatives of the DES, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Greater Derry Public Health Network and Parkland Medical Center.

Screenings were done on the district’s four other elementary and two middle schools, and they all came out clean.

At the March 22 meeting, Nelson said she had an updated letter to parents describing the remedial work.

“The next step is monitoring the functioning of the phosphate system,” she said. “In two weeks, we’ll take our first water samples since the system was installed.”

Nelson said, “based on the results of that, we’ll work with the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the state DES to get the levels stabilized.”

She and Simard will review the results and “if everything is stable and acceptable, we won’t need to do any more calibrations,” Nelson said.

She warned that it may take two or three cycles of testing to know for sure.

A copy of her letter to parents is posted on both the district and East Derry Memorial Web sites at http://www.sau10.org and  HYPERLINK “http://eds.sau10.org” http://eds.sau10.org.