Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Getting The Lead Out Of School Drinking Water

A filtered hydration station at Clay Elementary School on Feb. 25, 2020.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: A filtered hydration station at Clay Elementary School on Feb. 25, 2020.

You cannot see it, smell, or taste it. But lead in drinking water can be toxic, especially to children. The San Diego Unified School District has a new way to deal with this growing concern with its clean water program.

At Clay Elementary School Tuesday, the San Diego Unified showed off its proposed solution to the problem: Filtered water hydration systems installed in all the district's schools.

The filtered water flows from either the drinking fountain or the tap above it, which is designed for filling up a water bottle. Laura Deehan is a public health advocate with California Public Interest Group (CALPIRG). She urges schools across the state to follow this model.

RELATED: San Diego Unified’s Lead Testing Results, Mapped

Reported by Maya Trabulsi , Video by Roland Lizarondo

“It is possible to get the lead out and to protect children from this preventable public health threat," Deehan said. "We urge the board of education to adopt the plan at tonight’s board meeting so we can see the same transformation happen throughout the school district."

Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, particularly in children as it builds up in the blood over time. Higher tAN normal levels can lead to physical and mental developmental problems. Lead problems usually start with corrosion in older pipes, dislodged over time, entering the water system.

The school district has been aggressively dealing with the issue of lead in drinking fountains since 2017, testing over 2,500 water samples. If adopted at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, the system would hold the highest standard in the state.

Listen to this story by Maya Trabulsi.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Don’t have time to keep up on the latest news? We’ve got you covered with a mid-week check-in every Wednesday afternoon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Maya Trabulsi

Maya Trabulsi
KPBS Evening Edition Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm the news anchor for Evening Edition, which airs live at 5 p.m. on weekdays. I also produce stories about our community, from stories that are obscure in nature to breaking news.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.