Detroit city school officials are so concerned that there are high levels of toxic heavy metals in its water system that they shut the water off at 16 of its schools in a precautionary move.
As the school year prepares to kick off in a week, the school district is dealing with a potentially persistent problem of contaminated water with elevated amounts of toxic metals like lead and copper, the Detroit Free Press reports
Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti released this statement:
“Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools,” Vitti, said in a statement Wednesday.
The district began testing water at 106 of its schools last year, including water fountains and other drinking sources. Some 16 schools showed signs of elevated levels in the drinking water. There were 34 total schools reportedly with contaminated water, and 18 other schools have already had their water shut off, the news reports.
The only remedy being offered right now is providing bottled water for students and teachers.
In Flint Michigan, there was so much lead in children’s blood because of tainted water that a state of emergency was declared. Thousands of people have been affected by polluted water in the troubled city.
“I haven’t made this decision based on the Flint situation,” Vitti told WJBK. “I’m making this decision because I feel like it’s the best decision for children.”
In a joint statement, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department told residents “they are not affected by the lead and copper issues that the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is experiencing.”
“The drinking water is of unquestionable quality,” the statement said.
And the New York Times reports that the Detroit school system is also battling a series of other major problems:
Detroit’s public schools are a daily shock to the senses, run down after years of neglect and mismanagement, while failing academically and teetering on the edge of financial collapse. On Wednesday, teachers again protested the conditions, calling in sick en masse and forcing a shutdown of most of the city’s almost 100 schools.
The Times reports that school district officials believe that things have become so bad that the Detroit public school system could be insolvent by April.