San Diego

Water Shut Off at San Diego Unified School After Discovery of Lead

The amount of lead at a faucet on the school was nine times the district's standard and three times the state and federal governments' standards

A San Diego Unified school was without drinking water in their fountains Monday after an elevated level of lead was found in six faucets.

Levels of lead that exceeded the SDUSD's standard were discovered in six faucets at Fletcher Elementary School during routine testing, prompting school officials to shut off the water there, the district announced Friday. 

The faucet at the kitchen area was nine times the district's standard and three times state and federal standards, according to the district's report.

Kids are not able to access the faucets and bottled water was brought in for students on Monday, San Diego Unified School District Facilities Communications Supervisor Samer Naji told NBC 7.

Samples were collected from the school on Oct. 25 and the district received the results on Thursday. The school has shut off the water at the affected sites until the source of the lead contamination is found and removed, Naji said.

To remedy the problem, the school plans to repair each fixture and the piping leading to each fixture, he said. If the repairs are too expensive, a water filter will be used or the fixture will be removed entirely. 

The faucets will be retested before they are put back into use. 

The school hopes to have the problem identified and solved before a community meeting on Nov. 28. At that meeting, experts will be brought in to about lead poisoning prevention and children's health, Naji said. 

Parents were first notified of the danger by Principal Gina Camacho McGrath in a letter dated Friday. 

"For families concerned about the potential exposure their students might have had, the school district recommends families contact their family doctor or local community clinic and request a lead blood screening," McGrath said in the letter.  

There are no safe levels of lead, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. Lead can cause developmental, neurological and reproductive problems in children as well as adults.

Sofia Schoolcraft said she wasn't worried about the potential exposure her daughter may have had, but wasn't taking any chances.

"Maybe I’ll put a call in and see what my doctor says," she said. "I mean, I’m not worried, I’m not frantic, I’m glad they’re letting us know now."

She is also making sure her daughter is not drinking from any of the water fountains on campus. 

"We're just going to send water from home," Schoolcraft said.

The district started routinely testing the water at all of its campuses in July 2017 after dangerous lead levels were exposed at several schools in the county, including two in the SDUSD.

The district has also adopted a more stringent standard, exceeding state and federal standards. The district's new standard is 5 ppb, matching the Food and Drug Administration's standard for bottled water.

The district has been promoting a school-bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to fix contaminated water at aging schools. Measure YY is the district's third school improvement bond in 10 years.

Opponents of the measure said the two previous bonds were supposed to fix the lead contamination problem.

"We've given the district over the last 12 years $6.4 billion," Tom Keliinoi said. "The last 10 years almost $5 billion to fix lead in water. The question is how many billions do they need to fix to get the lead out."

Fletcher Elementary has scheduled an informational meeting with parents at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the school's auditorium to address the issue.

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