Quantcast

Detroit School District Shuts Off Drinking Water After 16 Schools Test Positive for Copper, Lead

Health + Wellness
Stacey_newman / Getty Images

Less than a week before the new school year, the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) announced Wednesday it would shut off drinking water in all schools after tests at 16 turned up high levels of copper or lead, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.


"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," DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement reported by The Detroit Free Press.

Vitti said he immediately turned off water Tuesday at the 16 schools that tested positively and had provided water bottles until water coolers could be delivered, The Detroit News reported.

Vitti began water testing at all 106 of the DPSCD's schools this spring independent of any federal, state or city requirement, The Detroit Free Press reported. He said this round of testing would be the first to evaluate every source of water in the schools, including sinks and drinking fountains.

When test results came back for the initial 24 schools tested, there were already 18 schools where water had been shut off due to water quality concerns. Tuesday's shut-off of the 16 schools that tested positively raises the total tally of schools with shut-off water to 34.

District spokesperson Chrystal Wilson said the remaining schools' water will be shut off before school starts the Tuesday after Labor Day, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's Office and the Detroit Health Department published a statement supporting Vitti's water testing efforts.

"We are fully supportive of the approach Dr. Vitti has taken to test all water sources within DPS schools and to provide bottled water until the district can implement a plan to ensure that all water is safe for use," the statement said, according to The Detroit News.

Officials think the problem comes from old school water fixtures, and not from the water's external source, The Associated Press reported.

A report released in May said that the DPSCD would need to spend $500 million now to improve school facilities, and Vitti, who became superintendent in May 2017, has criticized the state-appointed emergency managers who ran the district from 2009 to 2016 for not investing in necessary improvements.

"It's sending the message to students, parents and employees that we really don't care about public education in Detroit, that we allow for second-class citizenry in Detroit," Vitti said in May, according to The Detroit Free Press. "And that hurts my heart and it angers me and it frustrates me that I can't fix it right now."

It was also state-appointed emergency managers who sparked the water crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan when they decided to save money by sourcing the city's water from the corrosive Flint River, which leeched lead from old pipes into drinking water.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less