“Parents will be alarmed by just how many water taps fail to meet Health Canada guidelines in schools across our province.”
That was the reaction from Progressive Conservative Education Critic Tim Halman to the government’s assessment of drinking water in Nova Scotia schools.
“Providing safe water taps in all schools needs to be a priority for this government.”
Yesterday, the government published the results of the testing done to measure the amount of lead and copper found in water taps in schools across the province. More than 1,900 taps within the Halifax Regional Centre for Education alone did not meet Health Canada standards.
Amanda Lawlor, whose children attend Ian Forsyth Elementary School, is concerned about not only the condition of the school, but the lack of communications about the unsafe taps.
“I expect that when we send our kids to school, we are sending them to a safe environment. And we expect that if there are health and safety concerns at a school, that the government would communicate that clearly to parents,” says Lawlor. “It’s concerning that we don’t know how long the water at my childrens’ schools has been unsafe to drink, or when these taps will be fixed.”
Last year, the government was forced to test the water for dangerous levels of lead in all Nova Scotia schools after it was revealed that many had not recently, or ever, been tested.
“Governing is about priorities. And I don't know any priority higher than getting lead out of drinking water for children,” says Halman.
The Liberal government initially promised to share a centralized database, but instead released eight separate documents, with no running tally of how many water taps are unsafe, nor for how long they have been contaminated.
A count by the PC Caucus found a total of 5,968 unsafe taps, or approximately 20% of all school water taps in Nova Scotia.*
“It appears that the Liberals released these documents with the intent of making the full picture difficult to see,” says Halman. “Parents expect the government to release a full breakdown of how many total taps are contaminated, with regional breakdowns, and more importantly -- when they plan on fixing them.”
*Because the government did not release the total number of safe and unsafe water taps, the PC Caucus counted the numbers by doing a search for “passed” and “exceeds limit” in each of the eight documents.