Parents and students in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District were surprised to learn drinking water at several schools contains levels of lead that exceed Health Canada standards.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education directed school districts across B.C. to test for lead content in all facilities built before 1990.

In November, Tetra Tech Engineering was hired by the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District to conduct tests on one-third of the schools within District 68.

“They would take the water right away and there would be another one at 30 seconds, and a two minute and a five minute,” said Dale Burgos with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

The results showed all 10 schools had levels of lead exceeding the maximum allowable limit of 0.01 milligrams.

Experts found that even after flushing for five minutes the lead levels were still too high at John Barsby Community School and Nanaimo District Secondary School.

“There’s obviously concern and right away we put a plan in place,” Burgos said.

Several parents told CTV News they weren’t notified about the issue.

“I had no idea whatsoever, didn’t know anything about it,” one parent said. “It’s definitely a concern,” said another.

The engineering firm recommends staff flush the water at all drinking stations for two minutes every morning, and post signs to warn students and staff.

“There’s stickers actually right by sinks in now all schools, you flush the waterlines for two minutes … until its cold,” Burgos said. “When the water’s cold that’s when the water is fresh.”

Burgos said staff will also follow recommendations to regularly test the water quality.

“Testing has been done, and again I couldn’t tell you how often or who’s doing the testing … but it’s my understanding the water is safe to drink,” he said.

District 68 has allocated $70,000 for automatic flush values, new fixtures for aging infrastructure and refrigerated drinking fountains.

The equipment must be installed by the end of April. 

With files from CTV Vancouver Island’s Jessica Lepp