Fewer than half of Indiana’s public school districts are participating in a free lead testing program, according to Jim McGoff, environmental programs director at the Indiana Finance Authority.
The IFA created the voluntary program after lead contamination in places such as Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana, rose to national prominence.
Jim McGoff told a legislative study committee he has confidence the water supply itself is lead-free because of tests water utilities are required to perform.
The IFA program tests schools’ water fixtures, such as drinking fountains and ice machines. Based on the results of a similar program in Massachusetts, McGoff says he accepts most schools will have some positive lead samples, but he stresses that doesn’t mean schools should be “overly worried.”
“It just means you might have to replace a faucet,” McGoff says, “you might have to post a sign above that sink to remind people that that particular sink is not for drinking water purposes.”
He says replacing leaded water fixtures is relatively cheap.
Fifty-seven percent of public school districts are not participating in the program. McGoff says 19 of those districts are performing tests themselves, outside of the state program. He did not know why the other districts weren’t participating.
The IFA will continue to accept applications for the program until next spring. The list of participating schools will be released next month.