Image of a letter to the community about lead testing in school water fixtures.

January 15th, 2020

Dear McKenzie Families,

In 2016 the State of Oregon enacted the Healthy and Safe School Plan rules. These rules stemmed from concerns around lead in drinking water, asbestos in school buildings as well as radon gas exposure. At that time, the District conducted limited radon and lead testing. As we shared with you then, there were some elevated radon levels in the Pagoda Building. Mitigation work was done to reduce radon levels to acceptable thresholds. At that time, all of the water samples came back clear of lead, meeting the acceptable standards set at that time. 

Recently, the State of Oregon updated their Healthy and Safe Schools Plan requirements. A big change to state requirements is the mandatory testing of all water fixtures for lead. This covers almost all possible sources of drinking water that a student could feasibly drink from except: shower heads, water for the building heat/boiler system, emergency showers and eyewash stations, the janitor's mop sink (as long as students do not have access), outside irrigation fixtures (unless it is reasonable to believe that students or staff use this water for drinking), and Science room/CTE classrooms so long as they are marked and not used for food preparation. Furthermore, the acceptable threshold for lead in water was reduced from 20 parts per billion (PPB) to 15 ppb.

In complying with these new requirements and completing all required testing, we were made aware of a handful of water fixtures with elevated levels of lead beyond the acceptable 15 ppb. None of the elevated fixtures were used in daily food production.

Maintenance staff are reducing access by turning off water sources or posting signs to prevent consumption where appropriate following guidelines set by the Oregon Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency where necessary. 

The next steps after reducing access and posting signage is to retest water fixtures with elevated lead levels using a flush method. Using that info we will plan for remediation and conduct the necessary work. Once the work is complete we will retest to ensure the exposure risk has been mitigated. We will keep you updated as we learn more about test results and mitigation plans. 

Know that student and staff safety is our number one priority here at McKenzie. Beyond the expanded lead testing, we are planning expanded Radon testing as well through our Environmental Hazards Technical Assistance Program Grant from ODE.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Thank you,

Lane Tompkins


McKenzie School District

McKenzie River Community School