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School to have meeting on water quality

December 04, 1999

The PTA of Conococheague Elementary School has scheduled a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the school to address concern about the water quality in the school's drinking fountains.

A flyer distributed by the PTA suggests there is lead in the drinking fountains and questions a decision to remove bottled water dispensers from the school.

Tony Suranno of the Washington County Board of Education and a representative from the Washington County Health Department are expected to attend, answering questions about the water.

But Dennis McGee, director of facilities management for Washington County schools, said Saturday that the levels of lead in the water at Conococheague Elementary meet all the test tolerances allowed by the health department.

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"We would not let children drink unsafe water," McGee said. "The bottled water was put in because of the color of the water, not because of lead."

He said the water problem at Conococheague had always been high levels of iron which made the water brackish and discolored.

But that has been cleared up since new sand filters were put in at the school, McGee said.

Four Washington County schools - Conococheague, Old Forge, Fountain Rock and Greenbrier - are on wells, McGee said.

Located in a farming area, Old Forge has had traces of pesticides and nitrites in the water in the past, prompting the use of bottled water there, McGee said.

Greenbrier and Fountain Rock are in limestone areas while Conococheague is in a shale-rich site, hence the iron, McGee said.

Other than Old Forge and Conococheague, bottled water is only used in portable classrooms around the county because they have no water at all, he said.

- Marlo Barnhart

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