Lead warning issued for nine Sevier County schools

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SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — On Nov. 14, parents of students at nine Sevier County schools were sent a letter regarding lead levels in the water at the schools.

State law requires periodic testing for lead in water sources. This law just went into effect at the start of this year. The bill was championed by State Representative Rick Staples. He says he wanted testing to be mandatory in Tennessee after the Flint, Mich. water crisis.

“Initially, my colleagues didn’t see the need for it, but after speaking with a number of them and letting them know what the intent was behind the piece of legislation, as you can see now there is more of a need than what we realized.” Staples said.

Test results revealed that four schools each had one water source that was above acceptable lead levels, and at a fifth school, there were two water sources. That fifth school has a kitchen which also serves four other schools.

This statement was issued by the Sevier County Board of Education:

At the November 12, 2019, meeting of the Sevier County Board of Education, Director of Schools Jack Parton announced that results from recent lead testing of water in our school buildings as required by Tenn. Code Ann. 49-2-133 indicated that 4 schools had a single water source that produced results over 20 ppb in lead level tests. Sevierville Middle had two water sources that produced results over 20 ppb in lead level tests.  All 5 schools immediately removed the water sources at issue from service, and precautions have been taken to ensure that no children come into contact with the water from these water sources.  Repairs have already occurred; however, the water sources will be kept out of service until results from subsequent retesting, which occurred on November 13, confirms that the lead level is now at an acceptable level (below 20 ppb).  
 
A letter was issued to parents explaining the results of the testing at those five schools (Pigeon Forge Middle, New Center, Jones Cove, Sevierville Middle, and Sevier County High) on November 14, 2019.  On that same date, letters were sent home to students at Sevierville Intermediate, Trula Lawson Center, Parkway Academy, and Whites School as they are all served by the same kitchen which is located at Sevierville Middle School.  
 
In conclusion, proper county and state authorities have already been notified.  Steps were taken to immediately address the water sources at issue and we are hopeful that retesting will confirm that everything is now fine. If retesting indicates continued levels above 20 ppb, parents will be notified and the water sources will not be put back in use. We expect the results of the retesting sometime this week. 

Sevier County Board of Education

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