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Five Sevier County Schools test positive for higher water lead levels than state allows

The schools include Pigeon Forge Middle, Sevierville Middle, New Center Elementary, Jones Cove Elementary, and Sevier County High.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Update Nov. 19, 2019: School officials said the re-testing at the schools is complete and that four of the five are within safe guidelines.

Only one water source in Sevierville Middle School's kitchen is still be reexamined. It will remain offline until officials are ensured it is safe.

Original story: Nov. 18, 2019

Sevier County Schools says water sources at five schools tested higher than the state allows for lead.

That includes Sevierville Middle and Sevier County High School.

The district says it repaired those sources, and re-testing is underway.

Sevier County Schools announced the results of the lead testing at the Board of Education meeting on November 12th.

RELATED: KCS: Test finds high levels of lead in two faucets at East Knox County Elementary

The school system said it notified parents, and worked to make repairs.

Sevierville Middle School was one of five schools where water sources tested positive for higher amounts of lead than what the state allows.

A release from the district says Pigeon Forge Middle, New Center Elementary, Jones Cove Elementary, and Sevier County High all tested positive as well.

The school system tied the source at Sevierville Middle to the kitchen.

That kitchen also serves Sevierville Intermediate, Trula Lawson Center, Parkway Academy, and Whites School.

RELATED: High levels of lead found in faucets of 14 Knox Co. schools

The district says repairs have already happened, and now the district is waiting on results from a re-test.

Hamblen County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry said his district already tested all possible sources of contamination.

"Over the summer, we went ahead and tested all of those units," Perry said. "And we found that there was only a very small number that actually contained an unacceptable amount of lead."

None were typical drinking water sources.

The district spent nearly $20 thousand to treat the lines or take them out.

Money Perry said it could have been used in other ways.

"As the state made some of these laws, however, we always contend with them, that should come with some funding," Perry said.

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State Representative Rick Staples of Knoxville sponsored the bill that mandated lead testing at schools.

The new law went into effect in January.

He said there's a possibility the state could provide money to districts and law enforcement agencies to test and fix water sources.

"Possibly the state of Tennessee could look at allowing for grants," Staples said. "Also, LEAs could work in concert with our institutions of higher learning to give our masters and PhD students an opportunity to work their craft and they could possibly help them do the testing and come up with ways to do remediation."

The re-test results from Sevier County should arrive later this week.

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