November 6, 2017
Thank you once again for your correspondence on lead in water testing in Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (NLPS) dated September 28, 2017.
As Trustee Scott Kimler had mentioned in an email to you, district staff made a presentation at the Regular Board meeting held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 that provided an update on the testing procedures that have been completed and a plan for next steps.
The process of testing lead in water as it pertains to the guidelines set in place by the Ministry and Island Health, along with funding, must be adhered to by every district in the province. SEP funding is a funding grant made available by the Ministry of Education that requires districts to submit plans and await approval of the project from the Ministry.
Submission does not guarantee funding for the projects submitted. In the past, the district had applied for funding for specific projects, such as the North Cedar Intermediate (Cedar Elementary) project. These projects were unrelated to the testing for lead in water program.
I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some facts in your email. In your letter you asked:
• Why would you advise me both in writing and in person the district did not have the money to provide filtration on all drinking water sources when in fact…money has been made available to you for this purpose?
• Why have you not applied for funding as noted above? [Referring to SEP funding requests to Ministry of Education]
• When are you going to apply for funding and get filtration installed?
First, yes, the district did receive funds (as noted in the Ministry of Education letter to you) for North Cedar Intermediate (Cedar Elementary) and NDSS. These funds were for separate projects, unrelated to the Lead Water Testing project. These included upgrading the water supply system at North Cedar Intermediate (Cedar Elementary) and the replacement of a section of hot water supply piping at NDSS. Upon completion of these projects, the district had left over, unused funds. Our facilities department applied to the Ministry of Education to redirect these remaining funds towards the Lead Water Testing Remediation program. The Ministry approved the district’s use of the remaining funds from the two projects to be used for lead in water mitigation in year one of the program.
Second, in direct response to your letter, the district reviewed and subsequently submitted a request for funding for years two and three of the lead in water testing plan. The request to the Ministry includes $360,000 for water testing and remediation, and one bottle fill station for each school that does not currently have one.
The Ministry request will be considered upon receipt of a detailed remediation plan, which the district will create once the next round of water testing is completed. The district has not previously applied to the Ministry for SEP funding for the lead in water mitigation program because unlike the AFG funding, SEP funding is not guaranteed. However, AFG funding is a set amount received by the district each year. The Board felt that the lead in water mitigation program was important enough to apply guaranteed money towards the project, rather than wait for approval from the Ministry via the SEP process. This allows us to begin addressing the issue immediately, rather than wait for Ministry approval of SEP funds that the district may or may not receive. Furthermore, to ensure the district meets the March 31 deadline set by the Ministry for lead in water testing, the district decided to commit a portion of its AFG funds to meet that deadline. This was a priority as districts are not guaranteed approval of SEP funding applications.
Feel free to visit the BC government site which fully explains SEP and AFG funding.
As a reminder, the district’s plan is to follow the recommendations of both the mechanical and environmental engineers for remediation. This includes flushing, replacement, filtration and the installation of new equipment.
There are many ways to access clean drinking water. Districts across BC have chosen a variety of methods. However, the goal remains the same - safe drinking water for all.
I hope this letter further explains how funds were allocated to previous projects and how the district is moving forward in addressing lead in water in its buildings.
Steve Rae Board Chair