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St. Lawrence Central Elementary on boil water advisory

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central Elementary School has been placed on a boil water advisory after their water was deemed non-potable.

In a letter to families, elementary Principal Johnathan Hirschey said they have been informed by the state Department of Health that a water sample at the elementary school tested positive for total coliform bacteria.

“As a result, our building has been placed upon a boil water advisory as the water has been deemed non-potable,” Mr. Hirschey said.

As a result, he said, students were advised not to drink tap water from any source at the school and to take home all water bottles to have them thoroughly washed.

“Please note that it is still safe to wash your hands with water. I would also ask that students bring in a water bottle to refill in an attempt to cut down on the number of cups we will be using,” the principal said.

Mr. Hirschey said they would be providing bottled water at the school.

“We are working diligently with the Department of Health to rectify the situation. In the time until we have been cleared by the Department of Health, the building will be provided bottled water for consumption,” he said in his letter to parents.

He said they wanted to ensure that nobody became ill from drinking the water.

“The safety of our students and staff are at the forefront of our minds,” Mr. Hirschey said, advising parents to call him at 389-5131 if they had any questions.

A year ago the district had also been grappling with water issues at the middle and high school.

A problem with the district’s old well was discovered in early November 2012 when the water took on a different color and odor. Once the problem was discovered, the district received authorization from the state Education Department to dig a new well earlier than scheduled. It had been planed as part of the current capital project.

The district worked with the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation and state Education Department and had restricted the use of well water in the middle and high school in favor of bottled water and water dispensers until the problem was rectified.

They were initially unable to identify the source of well water contamination, but later found a significant leak in the heating lines in one area of the crawl space. That runoff was flowing toward the boiler room and the old well.

Stephen M. Putman, who served as superintendent at the time, said then that the leak occurred in 1950s-era steam heating lines that were scheduled to be replaced in the capital project.

The pipes were replaced that stopped the contamination. But they were directed by DEC officials to pump water from the old well into the sewer system to rid the system of all contamination.

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