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To The Editor:
Ann Marie Harmon's piece, "Yes! Another water vote!" stated that the Waitsfield Elementary School can't prepare hot lunch on site due to water quality issues. She indicated that students bring water bottles to school due to "boil water alerts." I would like to clarify and by doing so hopefully correct any misperceptions that may exist regarding our school's water.
The Waitsfield school contracts with the Fayston School for lunch, not because of our water quality but because we have a septic system that is not large enough to handle the demands of preparing lunch for over 100 children and adults. It is difficult to expand the system due to the amount of land and location of nearby waterways. The water system at the school provides water that could support an onsite hot lunch program but the septic system does not.
With regard to "boil water alerts," the Waitsfield School has not had any such alerts since 1994. We are required to test our water regularly. Our testing program consistently indicates that our water meets all standards for drinking and is safe for consumption. On occasion, we have been required to issue public notices regarding our compliance with state standards.
With this said, we have been asked by the state to upgrade the water disinfection capabilities. This will require a $25,000 to $35,000 upgrade to our system. We have applied and received financial support from the state to implement this project and plan on completing the work next summer. If the town approves its water project, the school will no longer need to pursue these upgrades. Regardless, it is important to know that the water at the school is safe to drink.
Finally, teachers do ask students to bring water bottles, but not because the water is unsafe to drink but instead it is a way for children to make fewer trips to the fountain during instructional time. Student water bottles are usually left at school and filled each day with school water.
I hope these clarifications are helpful. Please feel free to call the school and speak to either Richard or Joe if you have any questions.
Richard Schattman, Principal
Waitsfield Elementary School