On May 17th, 2017, I wrote the following letter to VIHA:Good Morning,
I find I get more distressed with every letter I have to write
I was referred to the following website when I first wrote to VIHA http://www.viha.ca/NR/rdonlyres/1B65EE50-BAF2-4B2B-9AAF-379D31839284/0/faqleadanddrinkingwater2016.pdf
I had previously viewed this website, but I do question its validity for School District Buildings testing. I would like to know what criteria and parameters you have provided for School Districts to do their testing please.
I also have huge difficulty with your 15 second to 30 second tap run. Where in the Canadian Drinking Water Act or in the Environmental and Workplace Health Act does it indicate a 15 – 30 second rule?
From everything I have read, the indication is that the water should be run until it is cold or for two minutes. I am also reading that the tap runs should be determined as temporary fixes only. A permanent fix is to use filters that filter out the lead content.
WHY is VIHA not making this clear to School Districts that are in the process of testing? I request a copy of whatever it is you are providing School Districts with to get the testing done
As one who understands our water is a finite resource, I highly criticize your mandate to “run taps” for any length of time! Here, as parents, we tell our children and grandchildren, to turn the water off when they are brushing their teeth and you tell School Districts or other business to run the water down the drain! This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The other major issue is the fact that Districts are only required to test 1/3 of their buildings per year! This too makes no sense for a first time test for lead. In Nanaimo, there were three schools that were far over acceptable numbers for the lead content. Therefore, Immediate remediation was necessary.That is 3 schools out 14. We still have 28 buildings left to test. So what VIHA is saying is that it is okay in the remaining buildings, some of which will be beyond acceptable levels, for children to continue to drink lead! UNACCEPTABLE! Please advise why testing, on the first time basis, would be left for three years!
I do request an early response please.
So you are aware, I have bcc’d the core group of Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition.
Chair – Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition
On May 22nd, I sent a second note requesting response
On May 24th, the following was received from Island Health:
Attached is a document that was sent to school districts to provide information and help guide the development of their sampling protocol and mitigation strategies. This information was developed based on a review of policy documents published nationally and internationally:
There are a few differing recommendations within the documents above for appropriate sampling, which the School District may take into account. The flushing time is determined based on the sampling results and may be different depending on the facility. The Ministry of Health is currently working on a guidance document for schools in BC, which we are hoping will be released shortly.
With respect to flushing, depending on the situation, the above documents indicate that flushing is an appropriate mitigation strategy that School Districts may choose to implement. I believe you have received a link to the Ministry of Education website, which indicates a flushing protocol is an acceptable means of mitigating lead in schools.
With respect to the requirement for sampling one third of the schools within the district per year, this is a Ministry of Education directive as noted on their website: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/legislation-policy/public-schools/testing-lead-content-in-drinking-water
. The focus is on schools constructed prior to 1990 with original plumbing. Many school districts on the Island have chosen to test a higher percentage of their facilities than directed by the Ministry of Education.
If you have any further questions, please contact Lynne Magee at lynne.mageeviha.ca. Please note, since the Health Protection and Environmental Services (HPES) program is a regional program, emails sent to multiple offices are likely to be responded to by a single designated individual (if you send an email to both the Nanaimo office and the Gateway office, you will receive only one response).
Leader – Operations Support
Health Protection and Environmental Services
3rd Floor – 6475 Metral Dr.
Nanaimo, BC V9T 2L9
Phone: (250) 740-6988
Fax: (250) 755-3372
I sent all of this out to my list serves with the following note:
Greetings to each of you in this e-mail,
This is the response I have received today from Island Health.My letter to VIHA is at the bottom.
I am not going to do anymore until I am asked to by those who visit our website. I cannot/will not carry this on my own.
It is a HUGE problem and I am afraid I do not understand why there is not a hue and cry from every parent in this country over the issue of lead content in drinking water of schools and homes built prior to 1990.
I believe everyone is asleep! .
What the schools have been sent in the four documents below are; one from Ontario, one from the USA and two Canadian ones. The last document in the second last paragraph lays out, from the government of BC, what needs to be done.
I will post this on the website so it can be referenced for wanted information.