City Detects Elevated Lead Levels In Birney Elementary Drinking Water
Thursday, May 11, 2017
City workers have found elevated levels of lead in the drinking water at another San Diego school.
The city alerted San Diego Unified Tuesday to the lead test results — 19 parts per billion — at Alice Birney Elementary School in University Heights. The Environmental Protection Agency says lead levels should not exceed 15 parts per billion.
District spokesman Samer Naji said the school called parents with the news that evening, and followed up with notes home the following day.
"By Wednesday morning, the campus water supply had been secured. So fountains are roped off with caution tape and there are signs not to drink the water," he said. "The district has also been able to set up water stations throughout the campus with 5 gallon jugs and cups. The district is also providing bottled water and will be until the investigation into the source of the contamination and repairs are done."
The contaminated water came from a drinking fountain in the cafeteria building that dates back to 1953. Lead pipes were outlawed in the 1980s.
The district is halfway through testing all of its campuses for lead under a new state program that requires water suppliers to test schools for free. Birney is the second school site to test above EPA permitted levels. The first was Emerson-Bandini in Southcrest, which houses a traditional district school and the San Diego Cooperative Charter School.
More than a dozen campuses have lead at what the EPA considers allowable levels. The school board has asked district staff to develop a plan for improvements at those schools, too.
The San Ysidro School District is also testing its schools, after it found contaminated water at La Mirada Elementary.
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