News

Four systems in county receive EPA attention

Written by Daniel Walmer, Lebanon Daily News | Mar 22, 2016 10:07 PM

Former N. Annville school still tests highest for lead

north-annville-ldn.jpg

Concerns about lead in the water at the former North Annville Elemetary School on State Route 934 in North Annville Township date back to at least 2008. (Photo: Michael K. Dakota, Lebanon Daily News)

(Lebanon) -- There are four small water systems in Lebanon County that have exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory standard of 15 parts-per-billion (ppb) of lead in 90th-percentile tests, according to nationwide data compiled by USA Today from EPA information.

Yellow Breeches Educational Center

The former North Annville Elementary School at 755 N. State Route 934 had by far the highest lead tests results of any Lebanon County location in the last three years, according to data reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Five tests conducted in 2013 -- the last year data was available for the school -- included results as high as 313 ppb and 202 ppb.

Concerns about lead in the school's water date at least as far back as 2008, when the district had an engineer examine solutions after facing pressure from DEP. The school was closed before the 2010-11 school year, and Annville-Cleona School District Acting Superintendent Jeffrey Miller said the district knows it will have to alleviate that problem if it sells or renovates the building, a decision he expects to occur in the next couple of months.

Annville-Cleona currently rents the building to Grace Life Church and Yellow Breeches Educational Center, a private secondary school for students with emotional problems based out of Carlisle. Yellow Breeches is aware of the lead problem at the North Annville building and does not use the water supply for drinking, instead using bottled water, said Yellow Breeches building director Logan Jones.

The Annville-Cleona School Board is actively pursuing a possible sale of the building, which was constructed in 1954. The board voted unanimously Thursday night to select a commercial appraiser to evaluate the worth of the building.

Ridgeview

The mobile home park off of Racehouse Drive near Jonestown reported test results of 44 ppb and 30 ppb from September 2014 testing and reported three other test results over the 15 ppb standard in the last three years.

Scott Reider, whose name is listed in DEP documents as the primary contact for Ridgeview, said the park does not have a problem with lead in its water supply. He said the EPA requires all kinds of very expensive tests, and if the park tests bad for anything, he immediately retests and remedies any problems that appear.

The overall results of tests have not demonstrated that there is a lead problem at Ridgeview, he said.

"We don't have lead anywhere near that place," he said.

Philhaven

The behavioral healthcare organization's main campus in West Cornwall Township reported a test of 42 ppb of lead in 2013 and two tests slightly over the 15 ppb standard in 2015.

"I can confirm that our drinking water is safe, and we adhere to all state and federal test requirements."
Brett Marcy, spokesman for Philhaven

All three tests came from two locations in janitorial areas that are never used for drinking water and rarely used at all, said Brett Marcy, a spokesman for WellSpan Health, with which Philhaven is affiliated.

Philhaven believes those were bad tests because the faucets had not been used for a long period of time, allowing lead to accumulate in the sitting water, Marcy said.

Experts at DEP-accredited Pure-Test Water Laboratory based near Myerstown confirmed that samples taken from water supplies not used for more than 24 hours before the test can cause misleadingly high lead results that are not representative of ordinary use.

Retesting after the 2013 high-lead test returned results well under the 15 ppb standard, Marcy said, and Philhaven anticipates that pending retest results completed in response to the 2015 bad test will also pass EPA standards.

"I can confirm that our drinking water is safe, and we adhere to all state and federal test requirements," Marcy said.

Countryside Christian Community

The North Annville Township retirement community exceeded 15 ppb in three 2013 tests, with 29 ppb as the highest result.

Those three tests were taken at outdoor faucets that had not been used for several months before the tests, said executive director Franklin Schock. All tests of faucets in cottages used for drinking water -- and all samples of any type since 2013 -- have not found high lead levels, he said. The campus has no lead service lines.

"Countryside is certainly concerned about the safety and well-being of our residents," Schock said, and does not have any problems with lead in its water.

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