School District Officials Propose Solution to E. Coli Tainted Water at Clover Flat

A new pressure tank will be installed in the pump house to directly pump water out of the well to the school for drinking purposes

Mountain Empire Unified School District officials will install a new pressure tank to alleviate E. coli in the school water at Clover Flat Elementary in Boulevard, the Superintendent Kathy Granger confirmed Monday.

One child's godparent, Vanessa Heath, told NBC 7 she thinks the district is handling the issue well.

"I think that seems like a good solution," said Heath. "They're trying to fix it first, and if not then, they'll provide an alternate source for them, and I think that is good as long as they allow the children to have enough water for themselves."

She says the district acted appropriately by communicating about the concern to parents, although it made her worry more about her godchildren.

"I was concerned and I watched them very close and they didn't end up getting sick so that was a good thing," added Heath.

This proposed pressure tank is a result of the district working with experts from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH), said Assistant Superintendant Gary Hobelman. Once the pump is installed, school officials will retest the water.

DEH officials say the school should work with their water system operator to clean the tanks and lids, fully flush the system and retest the water. 

There is adequate separation between the septic system and the water wells, confirmed DEH officials. The structures are separated by more than 200 feet, in adherence with state guidelines.

If the pump doesn't resolve the issue by the time school reopens in August, students will drink bottled water. If that happens, the drinking fountains will be taped off, and kids will not be allowed to drink from the fountains, as the district works to resolve the issue.

School officials are also considering putting water filters on drinking fountains, said Hobelman.

The school has previously drawn its water supply from big water tanks that are used not just for drinking water, but also for fire protection. County and state regulations permit the school to use the tanks as a water source.

But DEH officials say that's not wise because the longer water sits still, the more likely it is to stagnate.

A water sample tested positive for E. coli on June 16, the last day of school before students were released for summer vacation. The county's Environmental Health Department conducted an inspection of the system Thursday.

The school water system operator noted that the lids on their water tanks were not sealed correctly.

School officials are actively working with county officials to fix any issues with the water system.

Parents reached out to NBC 7 last week to report that several students at the school are suffering severe stomach symptoms, and some students have been hospitalized. It remains unclear whether E. coli in the water caused the illnesses.

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