Flint isn’t the only place in America with tainted water. The Newark Public Schools system and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced yesterday (March 9) that the water in 30 public schools tested positive for elevated levels of lead. The list of schools has not been released, but the district serves 35,054 students at 66 schools. According to the latest posted demographic census, about 92 percent of the students are people of color.
The school system performs annual water quality tests, but ABC 7 reports that after someone noticed discolored water at Louise A. Spencer Elementary School last week, officials expedited the test results. They learned about the lead on Monday, and notified parents two days later. It’s a delay that has some parents upset.
“I feel like we should have got a letter on that day and it’s just sad that we had to find out this way,” an unidentified parent told ABC 7.
Officials turned off the water fountains and brought in water coolers and bottles for drinking and food preparation. The water is still on in bathrooms, but signs have been posted telling students not to drink from the faucets.
The lead levels in the water, which was tested at several taps in each school, ranges from “non-detect” to above the EPA’s action level threshold, which is 15 parts per billion. The DEP says that the Newark Water Department’s source water does not contain lead, which means that it is likely coming from the pipes that and fixtures that deliver the water to the students. The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness is offering blood testing for parents who want to have their children evaluated.
Mayor Ras Baraka has asked residents to donate bottled water to the schools.