Utility takes emergency action after excess lead found in Greentown school water

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GREENTOWN, Ind. (Feb. 5, 2016) - High levels of lead were found last week in water at an Eastern Howard County high school classroom. Now, the town of Greentown is taking emergency action.

Eastern Howard School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Tracy Caddell said last week the district was made aware of a notice sent to residents in October, warning them of potentially high levels of lead in the water. The notice was sent to residents with older homes from The Greentown water utility. Dr. Caddell said the school district never received the notice.

"I wish the town would have came at the time to say, hey, we tested those houses and we're going to test the school as well," Claddell said.

The district then took it upon themselves to test and re-test the water. Levels at 20 parts per billion of lead were found in one classroom at Eastern High School. The CDC says the safe amount for lead levels in water is 15 ppb.

"We don't have a Flint, Michigan situation, but we have a concern. We do not want corrosive water coming into our building," said Claddell.

The school district shut down sinks and water fountains on Thursday. They opened up sinks on Friday, after recommendation from the Howard County Health Department. The school district is still providing bottled water to students for drinking and cooking. Water fountains remain closed. Claddell said they're not taking any chances until they get some answers.

“Where’s the lead actually coming from? Are the students safe? Is it just the one classroom,?" he said.

Friday, the town of Greentown announced they have been given emergency approval for new equipment to be installed by February 12. The water utility company said they have been working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management since June 2015 on water quality issues. FOX59  told you about some of those concerns over lead in October after a water rate increase.

In a statement, town leaders said;

"All of the above actions are indicative of a town council responding proactively to this issue and exceeding the required timeframe by over three years."

You can view the town's full statement by clicking here.