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St. Lawrence Central Elementary placed on boil water advisory

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BRASHER FALLS — St. Lawrence Central Elementary School has been placed on a boil water advisory after its water was deemed non-potable.

In a letter to families, elementary Principal Johnathan R. Hirschey said the school has been informed by the state Department of Health that a water sample at the elementary school tested positive for total coliform bacteria.

As a result, he said, students have been advised not to drink tap water from any source at the school and to take home all water bottles to have them thoroughly washed.

“Please note that it is still safe to wash your hands with water. I would also ask that students bring in a water bottle to refill in an attempt to cut down on the number of cups we will be using,” the principal said.

Mr. Hirschey said the school would be providing bottled water.

“We are working diligently with the Department of Health to rectify the situation,” he said in his letter to parents.

Mr. Hirschey said district officials want to ensure that nobody becomes ill from drinking the water.

“The safety of our students and staff are at the forefront of our minds,” he said, advising parents to call him at 389-5131 if they have any questions.

A year ago, the district also had been grappling with water issues at the middle and high school.

A problem with the district’s old well was discovered in early November 2012 when the water took on a different color and odor. Once the problem was discovered, the district received authorization from the state Education Department to dig a new well earlier than scheduled. It had been planned as part of the current capital project.

The district worked with the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation and state Education Department and had restricted the use of well water in the middle and high school in favor of bottled water and water dispensers until the problem was rectified.

District officials initially were unable to identify the source of well water contamination, but later found a significant leak in the heating lines in one area of the crawl space. That runoff was flowing toward the boiler room and the old well.

Stephen M. Putman, who served as superintendent at the time, said then that the leak occurred in 1950s-era steam heating lines that were scheduled to be replaced in the capital project.

The pipes were replaced and that stopped the contamination.

But the district was directed by DEC officials to pump water from the old well into the sewer system to rid the system of all contamination.

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