Water comes under scrutiny at Farmer Elementary School

ASHEBORO – Drinking water should be off limits at Farmer Elementary School because of chemicals found in the water supply, Randolph County School System superintendent Stephen Gainey announced last week.

Staff members are advised to avoid drinking the water after a report released by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. There are no classes because of summer break and only about a half-dozen staff members are working at the school for the next several weeks.

Gainey’s statement said that bottled water is available at the school. Gainey said the goal is to have the situation rectified by the start of the new school year in August.

The DEQ’s statement said that testing on small samples has been going on for three years and the data is preliminary.

“DEQ’s sampling of a small system west of Asheboro showed significantly elevated levels in well water,” the DEQ statement said. “DEQ also contacted the nearby elementary school and tested PFAS (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) levels in their two wells and onsite drinking water. Preliminary data on the samples at the school confirm significantly elevated levels of some PFAS compounds in one of the school’s two wells, as well as lower but still elevated levels of PFAS compounds, including soon-to-be regulated compounds PFOS and PFOA, at a tap (or faucet) at the school.

Residents in the immediate area also have been contacted.

Meanwhile, RCSS is sending a letter with additional information and resources to the homes of students and staff in the Farmer Elementary School zone.

Gainey said that Randolph County Public Health and state-level health professionals are assisting in providing guidance on the topic.

By Bob Sutton