Less than a week before school is set to resume, the Detroit Public Schools Community District announced on Wednesday that drinking water will be shut off in 106 schools around the city.
This news comes after 16 of the 24 schools in DPSCD were found to have elevated copper or lead levels in their water earlier this year. Since 2016, 34 schools in the district have reported issues with water quality.
According to the Detroit Free Press, DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti stated that he began to test water in everything from sinks to water fountains. Then, in a statement, Vitti asked for a districtwide shutdown “out of an abundance of caution.” The statement reads:
“Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools.”
Old plumbing systems in Detroit’s schools are apparently causing water issues. Because the water distribution in the city meets federal and state drinking regulations, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has stated that the issue will not affect other residents.
Water professionals believe that Detroit’s aging infrastructure is the root cause of the issue, not the water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead and copper can enter drinking water when service pipes containing these metals corrode.
However, many cities across the state of Michigan have been plagued with water quality concerns for years beginning in 2014 with the Flint water crisis. In Flint, thousands of citizens were exposed to water containing high levels of lead and other pollutants.
Consuming copper can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea; it is also associated with liver and kidney failure.
“I haven’t made this decision based on the Flint situation,” Vitti told WJBK. “I’m making this decision because I feel like it’s the best decision for children.”
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons.