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Officials To Test Water For Lead At San Diego Schools

School officials found heavy metals and bacteria in the water at La Mirada Elementary School, Feb. 9, 2017.
Guillermo Sevilla
School officials found heavy metals and bacteria in the water at La Mirada Elementary School, Feb. 9, 2017.

City officials will begin testing for lead in water systems atSan Diego Unified School District campuses next month, according to district officials.

The testing program comes a couple of months after elevated levels of lead, copper and bacteria were discovered at three campuses in the San Ysidro School District.

The testing at SDUSD campuses is scheduled to start April 4 and will take place early in the morning before classes start. Up to five samples will be taken at each site, from drinking fountains, cafeterias and food preparation areas, district officials said.

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SDUSD officials said the city will analyze the water samples and notify them of the results. If findings indicate that lead is present above allowable levels, district staff will determine the source of contamination and take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis — like turning off water, replacing fixtures or making plumbing repairs, said SDUSD Chief Operations Officer Drew Rowlands.

RELATED: Old Faucets Taint Water At San Ysidro Schools

"We are grateful to the city of San Diego for its partnership and cooperation on this vast undertaking," Rowlands said.

"The safety and health of students and staff across San Diego Unified is the highest priority for the district," he said. "Therefore, we will be using a geographic approach that provides the most efficient testing."

He said the program will start in the southeastern portion of the district — home to some of the oldest campuses — and work north and west.

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According to the city of San Diego, charter schools on public property will be tested, but those on private property will not under the program.

Schools on private property, and other districts with campuses within city limits, are invited to contact the city's Public Utilities Department to request testing. Many such schools have already done so, and those that haven't can get information online, a city spokeswoman said.

The testing at San Diego Unified schools is expected to wrap up by the time the traditional academic year ends in June.

According to the district, the State Water Resources Control Board in December required local water providers to test for lead at K-12 schools.

Information on the program is available online.