HODGDON, Maine — Regardless of eliminating lead from college taps and pipes, two Aroostook County colleges can’t use their water when lessons begin subsequent week.
The brand new carbon remedy techniques geared toward eliminating per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl contaminants, higher often known as PFAS, from the water at Mill Pond Elementary and Hodgdon Center Excessive Faculty gained’t be prepared for the primary day of faculty, in line with MSAD 70 Superintendent Tyler Putnam.
The brand new system, which directors had hoped could be prepared when fall lessons start, is slated for a late November completion after installers confronted gear and provide delays throughout the undertaking.
The Hodgdon colleges have been among the many first in The County to check for PFAS final November. When preliminary outcomes got here again in early December, the elementary college had 23 elements per trillion of PFAS and the center highschool had 34 elements per trillion. The state requires 20 elements per trillion or much less, Putnam stated.
“We have now a plan. It’s unlucky we won’t be able to go by the point the children come again, however I’m assured that we are going to attain the November timetable we now have proper now and get again on monitor,” Putnam stated on Friday.
The state instructed the district in December to stop all water use on the colleges due to the PFAS ranges. Over the winter vacation break, the district explored choices that included operating a water line from the Houlton Water Co., which has a pump station about 2.5 miles from the 2 Hodgdon colleges.
The district selected as an alternative to put in a carbon remedy system. Hooking into the Houlton Water Co. would have required a serious building undertaking that due to timing wouldn’t have been attainable. County roads have been slated for paving and all building alongside the highway is delayed for 5 years as soon as it’s paved, Putnam stated.
Maine’s new water high quality testing guidelines required all public water techniques to check for PFAS by the top of final 12 months.
Moreover, a 2019 regulation requires all colleges to pattern faucets used for ingesting or cooking to find out lead ranges at water sources. These embody ingesting fountains and taps in kitchens, lab sinks and loos. The protected state restrict is at the moment 4 elements per billion of lead.
Thirty-seven % of the taps examined at each colleges have been constructive for l ead above the state restrict. To treatment the lead drawback, McPartland’s Plumbing examined taps and pipes and put in new fixtures. The 2 colleges have since handed all lead exams, Putnam stated.
Engineers from Haley Ward Engineering in Bangor have been working with the district to revamp boiler rooms on the two colleges to accommodate the brand new carbon remedy techniques, Putnam stated.
Earlier than the water will be turned again on, he stated, the district should guarantee all of the environmental necessities are met and the state exams come again favorably.
“We’re in all probability late November to modify again to utilizing the water system,” he stated. “We’re ensuring the water coming in is handled accurately.”
As soon as the system is full, the district will ship water samples to the state for testing.
The price of the remedy system isn’t finalized but, however the state’s Consuming Water Program has given the district a $120,000 grant, Putnam stated.
Something above that value might be taken from the 2023-2024 district funds, he stated.
Final 12 months, the colleges switched to bottled water and coolers of water for ingesting and cooking. This 12 months, with the help of the director of diet, the district rented 5 water coolers for every college, Putnam stated.
“The water coolers are just a little safer and a bit simpler. They arrive in and alter out the bottles. It’s extra organized and fewer stress for everyone,” he stated.
In a web based message to folks and college students, Putnam requested that every one college students deliver a water bottle to high school every day.