We’ve said it before and unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to be saying it again… and again: we simply cannot trust that our drinking water is going to be safe and lead-free. The latest contaminated (and covered up) facilities are two schools in Portland, Oregon. Creston Elementary K-8 School and Rose City Park School tested positive for high lead levels in 14 out of 92 of their water sources. Although the district is providing bottled water for the rest of the school year and covering up water fountains until the levels can be tested again, internal investigations reveal that school officials neglected to tell families and employees when the problem was discovered in March, resulting in understandable parental outrage. Additionally, other sources report that the school district has known about lead issues in water since 2012!
Image via Wikimedia Commons
More than 100 concerned parents attended the emergency School Board meeting, which included a panel of Portland Public School administrators and government water officials, with some of those in attendance asking for the resignation of the district’s superintendent, Carole Smith. Perhaps she should have consulted the Flint, Michigan Handbook for How To Bungle A Public Health Emergency. Emails obtained by an Oregon news outlet confirmed that certain school district officials have known about lead issues since 2012, when concerns about aging plumbing resulted in certain recommendations such as placing multilingual stickers over “questionable sinks” and offering a water bottle filling unit at another school in the area. Parents, by the way, say that the unit never appeared. And perhaps placing stickers that require a certain level of literacy in a school that serves kids who aren’t old enough to read fluently isn’t the best way to handle a lead situation. Honestly, we’re at a loss here. Our kids should be focused on learning and growing at school, not on whether the water they are drinking after recess (if they even get recess!) is poisoning them.
Lead image © Willamette Week