Drinking water at all public schools in Detroit to be shut off due to contamination
Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that water supplies at 16 schools in the region were cut off over the weekend.
Authorities in Detroit on Wednesday announced that they have ordered all drinking water supplies in the city's public schools to be shut off after tests revealed the water in the region was contaminated. Elevated levels of lead and copper were found in water at more than a dozen buildings with antiquated plumbing systems, according to reports.
Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that water supplies at 16 schools in the region were cut off over the weekend and the educational institutes were provided with bottled water until water coolers arrive.
Vitti said that even though there is no evidence of a high amount of copper and lead in other schools, he decided to terminate the water supply throughout the system "until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," according to Reuters.
Lead contamination can result in stunting of children's neural development, according to medical research. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that exposure to copper can cause gastrointestinal distress and liver or kidney damage.
According to the affected district's website, nearly 50,000 students are enrolled in the region, which operates at least 110 schools.
A spokesperson for the district, Chrystal Wilson, released a statement, which read: "We have no reason to believe that any children have been harmed." The students are set to start classes on Tuesday. Teachers, in these schools, however, have already started working.
The Great Lakes Water Authority and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department released a statement, saying that the affected water, after treatment, surpassed all state and federal standards for quality and safety. The department added that any water contamination in the affected schools must be linked with the antiquated plumbing in the buildings, according to reports. The drinking water in Detroit reportedly comes from Detroit River.
Every single public school in Detroit is having its drinking water turned off “immediately” due to fears of lead & copper contamination. https://t.co/LwlgiVGPbm— Geoff Manaugh (@bldgblog) August 29, 2018
Safe drinking water has been a sensitive issue in Michigan, with one of its largest cities — Flint — battling lead contamination in its water supply. Flint water contamination has prompted multiple lawsuits and criminal charges against former government officials.
The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the source of the city's drinking water was changed from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the cheaper Flint River. Reports state that Flint River's corrosive water caused lead to leach from pipes supplying the water.