City takes action after tests show potential for elevated lead levels in Olathe neighborhood’s water supply

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OLATHE, Kan. -- The city of Olathe is going door to door Wednesday to warn residents in the Ridgeview South neighborhood of potentially high lead levels in the water supply. The elevated levels affect 105 customers in the area south of Sheridan Street.

"Though some preliminary samples in the area showed elevated lead levels, the type of test conducted can create a false positive for high lead content," the news release said.

Tim Danneberg with the City of Olathe says the results came back last Friday and the city has been working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to determine the next steps.

‪"Late last week we conducted a test in this area, a preliminary test, it was a field test, that showed the potential for high lead in a very isolated area, in an isolated neighborhood in Olathe," says ‪Tim Danneberg, a spokesman for the city of Olathe, "‪The test that we conducted is a very general test that we do from the water meter, and when we do that it can create false positives for lead levels."

"We felt out of an abundance of caution that we really needed to get out in front of this, and notify the neighbors," Danneberg added.

The city dropped off sampling kits at each home and asked residents to fill them with water from their kitchen sink. Workers were out today picking them up.

‪"For us to get an accurate lead test, we actually have to take it from the taps," adds ‪Danneberg.

‪At this point, it is unknown if there are high levels, as the meter reading is not reliable for lead.

‪While there is no mandate to take these precautionary steps, the city wanted to err on the side of caution given extreme circumstances surrounding water safety in other parts of the country.

‪"It worries me because my son drinks water all the time, my parents drink water all the time, my dad is going through a lot of chemotherapy and stuff, so just little things, you don't want to cause more sickness or add more stress, or add any of that stuff because of your water, I mean, its a simple thing, we use water for everything, obviously," said ‪Abygail Ramirez, who lives in an affected neighborhood.

"Ensuring our residents have safe and clean water is our top priority. We want to err on the side of caution given extreme circumstances surrounding water safety in other parts of the country," Olathe's public works director, Mary Jaeger, said in a news release.

City workers delivered bottled water to residents affected by the high levels of lead.

City workers delivered bottled water to residents affected by the high levels of lead.

The city said they will provide test results to residents as soon as they become available, but until then residents in the affected area should avoid using tap water for cooking and drinking. Tests could take up to five days to get back.

"If test results do not meet or exceed quality standards, the City is prepared to take any and all steps to ensure affected residents have clean and safe water," Jaeger said in the release.

The city of Olathe said it will provide test results to residents as soon as they are available, which could take up to five days. ‪If test results do not meet or exceed quality standards, the city is prepared to take any and all steps to ensure affected residents have clean and safe water.

‪The spokesman for the city says this is very unusual for this area, but in this neighborhood there are pipes that are 60+ years old. He said they've been putting in some new ones to help increase water pressure, but said testing done last summer showed no elevated levels of lead.