PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The water in Pittsfield's schools do not have any issues with lead or copper, according to the Health Department.
Health Director Gina Armstrong reported on Wednesday that the water in all of the municipally-owned buildings were tested for the chemicals and no findings were above actionable levels. The report is unlike the one recently released in North Adams, where some 50 water points turned out to have higher amounts of lead and copper.
"I think it is reassuring to the community because we hear a lot about what happened in Flint, Mich., and other parts of our region and it is not information that is readily available," Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the Department of Public Works took samples for testing in the spring and "all of those results were below action level." Then the department assessed the city's water distribution system, which was built out mostly between 1920 and 1950, and found little.
"All of our records show that no lead pipes were used. When lead welded joints are occasionally found it is the city's policy to remove and replace," Armstrong said.
Later in the summer, the Maintenance Department ran another bout of tests in municipal buildings, testing points of distribution such as water fountains and sinks, and only one kitchen sink was found to have levels above the state's limits. A second test on that sink a week later found that it did not have elevated levels of either chemical, Armstrong said.
But that doesn't mean there couldn't be elevated levels in other buildings inside city limits. It would be up to property owners to test their own water or see if there were lead pipes or connections, particularly the aging structures when those materials were used much more frequently.
"It is important for the older property owners to do their own testing and also to run the water. You just don't know if there are those lead connections or not, so run your water early in the morning and flush it out," Armstrong said.
The studies were performed in-house, Armstrong said, without additional funding from the state. Water contamination has been a hot topic in the last few years. In 2014, lead from pipes were found contaminating the water in Flint, Mich. More recently and locally, the village of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. faced a water crisis when high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid was discovered in the supply.
Earlier this week, North Adams released a report of studies conducted by Massachusetts Clean Water Trust that showed some elevated lead and copper levels. Some of those taps were for drinking water and they were shut off and warning signs put up until they could be replaced.
"It is a nice proactive step," Board of Health member Jay Green said of the city doing its own round of testing to keep an eye on the issue.
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