Testing Shows Majority Of Milwaukee Public School's Water Fountains Meet EPA Standards

94 Percent Of The District's Water Fountains Were Considered Safe To Drink From
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Jellaluna (CC BY 2.0)

More than 180 water fountains in the Milwaukee Public Schools district contained lead levels above EPA standards. There were 12,000 samples done of more than 3,000 water fountains and other water sources in the district's 191 buildings.

The district's chief operating officer, Wendell Willis, said the $1 million to $2 million cost of testing and replacing water fountains strained this year's budget, but will hopefully lead to a permanent solution.

"We knew that we were going to bite off more than we could chew from a capacity standpoints," Willis said. "So, other things got pushed to the back burner but I think looking long term we will most likely ask for approval to add an environmental specialist as a position. There will be other jobs besides this one but this will be the crux of that position."

He said the idea to test lead levels was a precautionary measure that came from the national conversation about water safety after lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan.

"Everybody's saying that your water's not that safe," Willis said. "We were like well, we think ours is pretty safe, but let's just make sure we're 100 percent on that. More than anything, questions came as people got back into schools when we hadn't finished testing."

Willis said the water fountains that were above EPA standards were immediately turned off and are still being replaced, adding they hope to be done replacing the fountains by early spring.

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