Six new schools across Perth given all clear from lead contamination

The site of Grandis Primary School. Photo: Martin Kennealey
The site of Grandis Primary School. Photo: Martin Kennealey

EDUCATION Minister Sue Ellery is looking at a smoother start to the new school year after six new schools were given the all clear from any lead contamination in water.

Welcoming students to the classroom for the first time are the following new schools; Coastal Lakes College in Lakelands, Grandis Primary School in Banksia Grove, Ridge View Secondary College in Baldivis, Aspiri Primary School in Piara Waters, Oakwood Primary School in Meadow Springs, Aveley North Primary School in Aveley and Southern Grove Primary School in Southern River.

This year is likely to be in stark contrast to the first day of the 2018 school year when bottled water was delivered to five new schools opening in Perth after elevated levels of lead were found in the tap water.

At the time Ms Ellery said she was ‘deeply disappointed’ the lead testing had not been implemented by Education and Building Management and Works in time to generate results by the start of the school year.

A Department spokeswoman said new schools, which are fitted with new plumbing fixtures, are water tested before they open for staff and students.

“The Department developed procedures for the flushing of drinking water taps, and water testing in new schools, in consultation with the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works,” she said.

“The six newly built schools opening this year have all been cleared, with the water quality meeting national drinking water standards.”

Meanwhile all schools will need to flush all drinking water taps and fountains for at least three minutes on February 1 to ensure any possible contaminants that may have accumulated over the summer holidays are removed from the pipes before students return on February 4.

Meanwhile a nationally-agreed sampling protocol for testing water to mitigate the risk of lead contamination in schools, supported by the WA Education Department, has yet to be finalised.

Last year the Federal Department of Health said it was working with states and territories to mitigate the risk of lead contamination in schools stemming from plumbing products.

The protocol was expected to be available prior to the start of the 2019 school year

Meanwhile the Education Department has confirmed that all regional schools on the list to have ember screens installed are completed and all metro schools will be completed by the end of January.

The confirmation follows news in November that nearly 90 per cent of schools designated as bush fire prone had not had extra preventative measures installed to reduce the risk of a fire spreading inside a school.

The screens were a recommendation of the Keelty report into the Roleystone-Kelmscott fire in 2011 that destroyed 71 homes.