San Diego

Single Faucet at Grapevine Elementary School in Vista Tests Positive for Lead

One faucet at one school fails lead test

New lead testing results at Vista Unified School District schools show that a faucet, used for food preparation at one elementary school, has tested positive for lead. 

The faucet, located at Grapevine Elementary School in Vista, at 630 Grapevine Road, is located in the kitchen. 

Of the 29 schools tested in the school district, 22 schools passed the lead test. Tests at six schools are still pending. The district is taking advantage of a state program to pay for the testing at its schools. 

Before the lead testing on March 15, the faucet at Grapevine Elementary was used for food preparation. Now, the faucet is bagged and out of use.

“One faucet got a 16 measure on the lead test, and 15 is in the danger level, so we immediately shut it down, turned it off water, and bagged it,” said assistant Superintendent of Business Donna Caperton.

As schools test for lead in their drinking water, they are required by the state to fix problems if they discover lead in water at levels greater than 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Approximately 17 schools throughout the county have found lead between 5 ppb and 15 ppb - levels at which they are not required to take action under state guidelines.

Caperton said the district has also brought in hot water stations, so kitchen staff could wash their hands.

They brought in bottled water for cooking, and food is being brought in from the central kitchen. 

The district made repairs, but after a second round of testing on March 24, the water tested a measurement of 12.

That’s below the 15, but even so, out of an abundance of caution, more repairs were made, and another test was done Wednesday. The district is waiting for the results of that testing.

“I mean if they’re taking care of it, I’m not worried,” said Maria Deleon, a parent at the school.

Deleon was happy to know the District is taking action, but she wishes the District had notified parents, especially since the faucet in question was involved in food repair.

“The reality is it was one school. It was one faucet. We did not want to unnecessarily alarm people,” Caperton said.

Caperton said the district’s focus was on getting the problem fixed.

“We're here to make sure your children are safe, the food they get is safe, e they have clean water, and we’re not going to make any excuses or cut any corners in doing so," Caperton said. 

As schools across the County test for lead in water, NBC 7 is mapping the schools and the results here. Parents can view how the testing is going and click on each location for updates and links to test results. 

In 2009, California’s health department, OEHHA, set the public health goal for lead in drinking water at 0.2 parts per billion.

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics maintain there is no safe level of lead in drinking water provided to children.

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.

The potential for lead contamination in the water supply is greater in buildings built before 1986, according to health, water and city experts.

There are 447 schools across San Diego County built before 1986.

See our map of schools where the risk is greater here.

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

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