Water Sampling at GES

Dear parents, staff, and community members:

Grafton Elementary School recently participated in a pilot program initiated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to determine if per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are present in on-site drinking water supply wells at schools. This pilot test was part of a statewide effort to identify potential sources of PFAS throughout Vermont.

PFAS have been identified in various floor cleaning products, stripping chemicals, waxes, and polish that may be used at schools. If PFAS-containing wash water is disposed of on the ground surface or into an on-site septic system, these compounds have the potential to impact groundwater.

The DEC worked with the Agency of Education and the Department of Health to develop a voluntary pilot program, and requested participation from ten schools, including Grafton Elementary. These ten schools were selected for the pilot study following an evaluation of historic water quality monitoring data including levels of chloride, nitrate, and/or total coliform. Based on this data, these ten schools were prioritized because they were believed to be vulnerable to surface water impacts or septic system leachate. If PFAS-containing products were disposed of on the ground surface or into the school’s septic system, the potential pathway for these compounds to impact the drinking water source may exist.

The water supply well at Grafton Elementary School was sampled on July 12t​ h​ and July 26t​ h​. Both samples were consistent and had a combined PFAS concentration of 22 parts per trillion (ppt). These results are above the drinking water health advisory of 20 ppt.

As a result of the PFAS detections, bottled water is being supplied to anyone at the school until further notice. The water should not be used for drinking, cooking, or other consumptive use, but can be used for washing hands. Staff from the DEC sites management section and drinking water program are working to implement a short-term solution to install point-of-use treatment systems at locations such as drinking fountains and kitchen sinks that will remove the PFAS from the water. The Sites Management Section will also be working with their contractor to identify the source and extent of the contamination through additional testing. At this time, the source of the contamination has not been confirmed. This testing may need to be expanded to nearby drinking water sources in the future. Concurrently, DEC will evaluate long-term solutions including a point-of-entry treatment system or replacement of the drinking water source.

Questions regarding the testing at the Grafton Elementary School can be directed to Liz Harty at 802-843-2495 or elizabeth.harty@wnesu.com or Kimberly Caldwell of the Sites Management Section at 802-461-5857 or ​kimberly.caldwell@vermont.gov​.

Sincerely,

Liz Harty Principal

Chris Pratt
WNESU, Superintendent of Schools