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Water in Syracuse schools have safe levels of lead with 2 exceptions, sources not used for drinking

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

The water in Syracuse schools has been tested for lead and 43 out of 45 schools were shown to have safe levels. Two schools each have a water source showing elevated lead levels that are not used for drinking.

The sinks in question were located in a janitor’s work closet at Delaware Elementary and a classroom laboratory at the Syracuse Academy of Science. One sink has been replaced and the other is scheduled to be replaced soon.

"You don't have to worry about that here in Syracuse, but here's another instance where infrastructure affects your daily life," Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said. "When infrastructure works well, nobody thinks about it. What I wanted to do is draw attention to that fact that it is a basic essential."

Miner has spent her time in office focusing on the need to improve aging infrastructure and said more people are now paying attention.

“I use this as an example of saying to people, infrastructure is incredibly important to our quality of life, public safety and public health," Miner said regarding the recent tests at Syracuse schools. "Because we have such a great infrastructure system, with water in particular here in Syracuse, we don’t have to worry about what some communities are worried about right now. In light of Flint, Michigan, in particular, that really captured the public’s attention and said, ‘how can we have a water system that leaches lead, that poisons children, families and an entire city and not know about it?'"

Looking ahead, Miner said the city is receiving money from federal and state governments for roads but she’s asking for more flexibility.

“If you could give us money that would allow us to go down into the road and fix all of that infrastructure at one time so we don’t reconstruct a mile of road for about a million dollars and then 48 hours later have a water main break underneath it and have to cut into that asphalt.”

Elevated levels of lead were found in the Ithaca City School District and the Jordan-Elbridge School District in Onondaga County and Miner said the case of Hoosick Falls, NY is a warning to communities. That's where hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing were found in the village’s water system. State officials have since said the water is once again safe to drink there.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.