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Washington County checking Head Start for lead in water

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Washington County will test its Head Start facilities for lead in the water, although there is no requirement to do so yet.

But given the surprising number of schools with lead problems, county Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Harrison Steves said it was important to check the Head Start classrooms.

School officials began checking their water in response to a new law requiring lead tests last month. The results showed that there were deteriorating pipes in many locations.

“We might want to test, too, to find out what the hell’s going on and fix the problem,” Steves said.

It will cost $700 to test every faucet in the Head Start facilities. The cost of repairing problems will depend on whether pipes need to be replaced. The first indication would be a positive lead test.

“If we do, we’ll fix it,” he said. “We’ll make it safe for the kids.”

Of the Head Start locations, he’s concerned about the Granville center on Dix Avenue, he said. The center in Whitehall at St. Paul’s was recently remodeled, so it’s unlikely to have deteriorating pipes, he said.

Other county Head Start officials also want to test their water.

In Warren County, Head Start Executive Director Shari Marci began discussing the issue last Friday.

“It certainly makes sense to me,” she said.

The county has five classrooms in the local school districts. All of those are already being tested by the districts. But Head Start also runs classrooms at its Glens Falls center and at SUNY Adirondack, which have not been tested.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any concern,” Marci said. “Our buildings aren’t that old. It’s just to be on the safe side.”

In Washington County, Executive Director Claire Murphy of the Economic Opportunity Council wants to test mainly to reassure parents.

“So when someone says, ‘Do you have problems with lead?’ we can say, ‘No.’ Assertively no.”

At the Washington County locations, children use bottled water for drinking and the staff uses it for cooking. That’s not because of fears about the tap water. Use of the bottled water grew out of concerns about allergies and safe water for formula, she said. The facilities have children from birth through age 5.

But she noted that some children probably drink the tap water, and in any case she wants safe water for anyone who might drink it.

“This is strictly preventative,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do. The responsible thing to do.”

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.</&box_em>

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