San Ysidro residents are questioning whether their water is safe to drink after learning dangerous levels of lead and bacteria were found in the drinking water at La Mirada elementary school.
Homeowner Benjamin Rocha said he’s extremely worried about the health of his two young boys.
He lives just a few hundred yards from La Mirada where lab results revealed high levels of lead, copper and bacteria in the drinking water.
“I don’t drink the water from the faucet,” Rocha told NBC 7 in Spanish. “I buy our drinking water.”
Rocha said about a year ago a company selling water filters came by his home to test the water. He told NBC 7 the company found a lot of lead and high levels of contaminants in the water coming from his tap.
District officials shut off the drinking water at La Mirada, Smythe elementary and San Ysidro Middle School. Tests have not revealed lead or other contaminants in the water at Smythe or San Ysidro Middle, but administrators shut the water off out of an abundance of caution pending further testing.
Many residents have told NBC 7 they are very concerned about the health of their children in finding out the news, but some feared sharing those concerns on camera and few showed up to a meeting last night to discuss the issue.
City Councilman David Alvarez he’s not surprised about the lack of apparent community involvement on the issue, but said residents are definitely discussing the issue.
“I think unfortunately in San Ysidro, there has been a history over the last couple years of just not listening to the community and I think you are probably starting to see the results of that,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the poor drinking water is yet another example of a community neglected for decades. Other examples include the area having the oldest library in the system and San Ysidro High students walking to school on a narrow dirt trail after being promised a sidewalk since the 1990’s.
“I think the sense I have from the community members is that people have really forgotten about San Ysidro,” Alvarez said.
NBC 7 has requested results of water quality testing near the schools conducted by the City of San Diego, which provides the water to the San Ysidro school.
Senior Chemist Doug Campbell said the city tests the water weekly in the area.
“We have an extensive monitoring program for contaminants and for corrosivity,” Campbell said.
NBC 7 requested results from last week’s test, but we are still waiting on the documentation.
Rocha said he feels that he must speak out about his concern “not just for his kids but for the entire community.”
“The school doesn’t have any reason to get mad and the authorities with the city of San Diego don’t have any reason to get mad if we are asking for something that they have an obligation to provide to the citizens: that they check the water. That’s an obligacion of the school and of the city,” he said.