San Diego

San Diego Unified Announces New School Water Testing Plan

The three-year program will involve testing all water outlets used for human consumption at district facilities.

San Diego Unified School District announced new water testing policies Thursday in connection to the lead-tainted water found on several local campuses.

The three-year program with Calpirg, a statewide environmental advocacy organization will involve testing all water outlets used for human consumption at district facilities. The sampling project will include early childhood education facilities and central offices, which were excluded from testing earlier this year.

Water was tested at 207 schools on district property beginning in April. Results showed 19 percent of the schools had some level of lead in the water.

In July, the district unanimously approved a water quality plan to lower the acceptable level of lead. 

Schools are required by the state to fix problems if they discover lead in water at levels greater than 15 parts per billion (ppb). 

Now, San Diego schools will take action if lead levels are recorded above 5 ppb. District officials say San Diego schools will have the lowest lead action level of any school district in California.

“We said, let’s set a goal of making sure that the water quality in all of our schools is as high as what the FDA tests for bottled water to make sure all of our outlets are safe," explained Richard Barrera, Board President of San Diego Unified School District.

San Diego Unified School District published test results for each school here. 

In 2009, California’s health department, OEHHA, set the public health goal for lead in drinking water at 0.2 parts per billion. 

The California Public Interest Research Group and the American Academy of Pediatrics maintain there is no safe level of lead in drinking water provided to children. 

According to a district news release, SDUSD aims to present options to the school board that would allow for the district to reduce the action level to 1 ppb by 2020.

Lead poisoning in children can cause symptoms ranging from headaches and hearing or speech problems to learning and behavioral problems or damage to the brain and nervous system. 

Parents tell NBC7, they couldn't be happier about the added safety precautions.  

“This is an old building, it's not surprising that this would happen. It's great that the testing was done and I thought they acted very quickly," said Naomi Stevens, the parent of a child who goes to Birney Elementary.  "I think that what they're doing and encouraging other schools to test is absolutely essential because we just have an aging infrastructure everywhere, and so it's going to pop up."

NBC 7 is gathering our coverage of concerns regarding drinking water in our special section "Safe to Drink?' here.

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