Detroit shuts off schools' drinking water over lead concerns

By Danielle Haynes   |   Aug. 29, 2018 at 2:48 PM

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Detroit school officials shut off drinking water at all of the district's schools after testing revealed some had elevated levels of lead and copper in their water, the superintendent announced Wednesday.

Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said there were water-quality issues at 34 of the district's more than 100 schools, including 18 with pre-existing problems where water filters had been installed.

The school district undertook testing during the spring and found 16 locations had higher than acceptable levels of copper and/or lead in one or more water source. Vitti said he immediately turned off all drinking water at those schools and provided them with bottled water until water coolers could be installed.

"Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools (over 50) 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 emailed to UPI.

Students were scheduled to return to school after the summer break next week.

Detroit is about 70 miles southeast of Flint, Mich., which has been plagued with tainted water since April 2014, when city officials decided to draw water from the Flint River, switching from its previous source of Lake Huron.

In addition to causing lead poisoning in children, the improperly treated water supply led to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

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