New water test at school clean, but some questions remain


School officials have some answers about the Raymond Elementary water situation, but those answers have led to more questions.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contacted Marysville Schools about the water supply at Raymond Elementary School. Health officials said the building’s drinking water exceeds the USEPA Health Advisory Level (HAL) for antimony, a rare but a naturally occurring element.

“Both rounds of tests they ran this week came back negative,” Marysville Superintendent Diane Mankins said. “What does that mean? We don’t know.”

Mankins said that since the positive results, based on tests taken Aug. 20 and Aug. 30, EPA has “taken multiple samples from multiple places, trying to determine where that was coming from.”

She said the district was expecting results Friday or early next week, but the results that came were unexpected.

“We don’t know what’s changed, why we would test positive a few weeks ago and negative now,” the superintendent said.

Last week, following the positive tests, district officials were told not to allow the students to ingest the water or even to cook with it. All water fountains in the building, even those in individual classrooms were disabled.

As a result, district officials closed Raymond Elementary on Monday so they could create a plan to provide safe water. The building reopened Tuesday with “five, large watering stations throughout the building.” The district contracted with a company to bring large containers of water for the kitchen.

Officials knew the measures were Band-Aids not the cure, but wanted to create a solution that allowed the building to stay open until a cause and a fix were found.

Even with the new test results, officials said they want to be cautious. Mankins said that as part of the district communication with the health officials, the district has “requested guidance on next steps and clarification.”

“We have asked some clarifying questions,” Mankins said. “Until we get those answers, we are remaining on the bottled-water system. Until we find out some of what we need to know, it feels like the right thing to do.”

The EPA tests for antimony every three years. Officials said that when the water was tested in 2016, there was no antimony.

Officials said they will communicate with parents and hold a parents’ meeting when they have answers and a plan for moving forward.

Parents with questions or wanting more information are being asked to call Raymond Elementary School Principal Carol Lentz at (937) 578-7200.

According to an EPA notice, “antimony is a natural occurring element.”

EPA officials cited a World Health Organization statement that “antimony is not normally a raw water contaminant.”

Officials have said the detection of antimony is “rare and does not pose an immediate threat” but according to the EPA advisory, “some people who drink water containing antimony well in excess of the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Levels) over many years could experience increases in blood cholesterol and decreases in blood sugar.”

A notice from the EPA advised, “Do not boil the water. Boiling, freezing or letting water stand does not reduce antimony levels.

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