San Diego

High Levels of Lead Discovered at Reidy Creek Elementary

New state data show levels of lead in the water at Reidy Creek Elementary School in Escondido was discovered at levels more than three times the limit set by state and federal regulators.

A sink in the kitchen of the elementary school tested with levels of lead at 50 parts per billion (ppb), according to data provided to NBC 7 by State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

Schools are required by the state to fix problems if they discover lead in water at levels greater than 15 ppb.

Superintendent Dr. Luis Ibarra from the Escondido Union School District said the sink has since been fixed.

"The lead contamination was noted at a single location in a wash sink in the schools kitchen. The wash sink was immediately taken out of service and the fixture was replaced and retested," Ibarra said, adding the fixture was retested June 7 and passed. "The fixture is now back in service."

Districts across the San Diego County are participating in a voluntary state program that allows for them to request free testing to determine lead levels in school drinking water.

The program requires water agencies to pay for the water testing if a school requests it, and then submit the lab results to the SWRCB. 

NBC 7 Investigates has been collecting the data gathered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and putting it in a searchable format for parents.

Parents can click on this link to find the information.

Type your child's school into the search box with the magnifying glass icon, and if the school has been tested, results will be available here as they are reported to the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) and updated weekly.

So far, 16 water agencies in the San Diego region have sent the SWRCB water lab results for 439 schools across the county.

Of the results compiled by the SWRCB, and provided to NBC 7 Investigates, about 72 schools had water that tested with lead above 5 parts per billion (ppb). That's the threshold used for bottled water and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard.

In the results reported so far to the state, 10 schools had levels of lead higher than 15 parts per billion.

Here's a list of schools countywide with water samples greater than 15 ppb of lead:

  • Twin Oaks High in San Marcos, 31 ppb
  • Cesar Chavez Middle, Oceanside, 18 ppb
  • Ira Harbison, National City, 20 ppb
  • Grapevine Elementary, Vista, 49 ppb
  • Imperial Beach Charter School West Campus, 25 ppb
  • Emerson Elementary, San Diego, 29 ppb
  • San Diego Cooperative Charter 2, 38.6 ppb
  • Birney Elementary, San Diego, 19 ppb
  • English French Learning Academy, San Diego, 35.9 ppb
  • Reidy Creek Elementary, Escondido, 50 ppb

Since February, NBC 7 Investigates has been collecting this same data from the state, approximately on a weekly basis and reporting on the individual schools when the results were high.

The results do not include schools that contracted with a private lab to test the water, like La Mirada or San Ysidro Middle in the San Ysidro school district. La Mirada had levels of lead ranging from 15 ppb to 267 ppb, and the district has not yet provided lab results to NBC 7 Investigates for levels of lead at the middle school.

Lead poisoning in children can cause symptoms ranging from headaches and hearing or speech problems to learning and behavioral problems or damage to the brain and nervous system.

NBC 7 is gathering our coverage of concerns regarding drinking water in our special section "Safe to Drink?' here.

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