BINGHAMTON, NY – Ithaca City School District Luvelle Brown said of the lead problem in Ithaca schools that this was a problem that all schools would be dealing with sooner or later.

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His theory seems to have been proven true rather quickly.

After hearing about the problems that Ithaca area schools were having with lead in their water, the Binghamton City School District decided to take a proactive approach.

In a letter sent out to parents and guardians on Wednesday, Binghamton City School District Superintendent Marion H. Martinez said that, on Feb. 9, she began looking into the last time water supplies in Bingampton schools were checked.

As is the case with Ithaca City Schools — except for Caroline and Enfield, which use well water — Binghampton city schools get their water through the city’s system, and are not required to test their water supplies.

According to the letter, maintenance records showed that the school had testing performed in 2013, in which 429 locations were sampled. The report did not include any recommendations, however.

Actions taken

Two days later, on Feb. 11, district officials met with a consultant to review the results and located a total of 58 locations that were above the action level for lead.

Seven of these were primary sources of drinking of water and were labeled as high priority. Over the next week or so, the offending sources were turned off and retested. Three of these returned acceptable results upon retest, another two had their fixtures replaced and filtered before retesting below the limit. Two others remain turned off.

A further 51 locations were identified as “medium priority” non-primary drinking sources. Upon retest, 30 of 51 came back above the EPA-regulated action level.

“None of these areas are intended to be sources of drinking water, but upon physical inspection of the area, if there was any concern, they were shut down pending further action,” Martinez wrote in the letter.

Martinez laid out the following plan for the school district, moving forward:

“Although there is no EPA or State requirement to test our water, I have made the following recommendations to the Board of Education:

  • Identify and test ALL drinking sources including the field houses, Alumni Stadium (East) and West Middle School Fieldhouse.
  • Label ALL non-drinking sources as a precaution because they WILL NOT be sampling points in the future.
  • Re-test ALL drinking sources a minimum of every three years and after equipment or fixtures are replaced.
  • Replace water filters per manufacturer’s recommendations.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.