San Diego

Smelly Water at Emerson-Bandini School Raises Concerns

An odor in the water at Emerson-Bandini School in southeast San Diego has prompted San Diego Unified School District to say they are providing water to students.

NBC 7 confirmed water fountains in public areas of the school were still running on campus Wednesday even though test results showed the water may be unsafe to drink.

Third grade student Francisco Orejel said students avoid the fountain.

“The water is just fine but we don’t drink from it,” Orejel said. “We get cups. We get bottled water sometimes.”

NBC 7 found there was some confusion about whether the students were actually being provided bottled water.

Late Wednesday, officials with the district sent NBC 7 a statement. It said the district received word of a possible odor in the water about a month ago so they sent samples out for analysis and started providing bottled water.

On-campus educators told NBC 7 there was nothing wrong with the water from the fountain. They also said bottled water was not being provided.

A district spokesperson said preliminary results indicated “some mitigation of the situation may be required.”

Outside school grounds, parents said they believed the children were getting bottled water but they haven’t heard anything about what the issue is or that there may be bacteria in the water.

“We always have our own water,” Julio Chicon said. “We carry our own water. We just don’t really trust the water that is given to us nowadays.”

NBC 7 received a letter from the school that informs parents of recent news reports involving elevated levels of lead in some water offered on school campuses in the county.

The letter states there are no indication of unsafe levels of lead in the water supply at any San Diego Unified Schools.

It also states that, as a precaution, the district is testing for lead.

The letter said nothing about unsafe levels of bacteria.

A City of San Diego spokesperson and a district engineer with the State Water Resources Control Board said water testing done at Emerson-Bandini showed elevated levels of bacteria at the elementary school.

This is just the latest in a series of school drinking water concerns.

First, there was the discovery of lead in the drinking water at a San Ysidro elementary school.

Then, Warner Springs schools confirmed they are dealing with arsenic in the water there.

Just this week, the La Mesa Spring Valley schools' superintendent said water at all of its school sites was being tested.

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