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Water fountain in Cascades Park shut down for lead testing

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 18:56:11-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — One water fountain at Cascades Park is out of service after a group found above-average levels of lead.

Kim Watts and another fellow with the organization Get the Lead Out tested several fountains at Cascades Park weeks ago.

"We came out, tested the water, sent it to a university in Virginia. In just a few weeks they sent us the results back," said Kim Watts.

Those results showed the water fountain nearest to Lafayette Street and the Department of Transportation building read lead levels of 20.6 parts per billion.

The Environmental Protection Agency says action should be taken at 15 PPB. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics says a reading of 1 PPB creates health risks for children.

The city also found it to be the only fountain with an elevated reading. The City of Tallahassee is now awaiting results from additional testing. There is no indication that the levels from the one fountain are a result of the water quality in Tallahassee. The sight of the covered fountain sent a wave of excitement through Watts.

"This is a real action step like they're saying, 'We see there's an issue and we too want to prevent lead poisoning,'" she said.

It's not the first time testing from the group has led to some change. In 2016, the group tested water sources throughout Leon County Schools. After finding level above the EPA's action number, Leon County Schools Director of Code Enforcement Rod McQueen implemented changes.

"We have a water quality assurance program where we work with the Get the Lead Out team and a consultant out of Tampa," said McQueen. "We've come up with a flushing program, we've come up with an assessment program where we go and collect samples of our drinking fountains throughout the school. We have a threshold we set at 10 parts per billion."

Every year, Leon County Schools tests its levels. At least twice a week, the school will flush its water sources, which means letting anything that will produce consumable water run for a couple of minutes at the start of the day.

"Leon County Schools was the first county to implement a program to test the water and lead samples," said McQueen.

Now Get the Lead Out is fighting for Florida law that would require regular, mandatory testing.

"Right now there are no laws or regulations for regular testing of water fountains or any water drinking sources for testing or filtering. That really needs to be changed, especially for children in schools," said Watts.

There is a bill in the Florida Senate right now that would require more testing and filters.