At-Large D.C. Councilmember David Grosso has scheduled a hearing in June on the Bowser administration’s efforts to ensure water at schools is potable.
At a hearing Thursday, administrators acknowledged that sources of water at three schools had to be shut off due to positive testing for heightened levels of lead this year. Those schools were Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, Miner Elementary, and Payne Elementary, located across the District. Grosso says he’s worried about the harms the lead could have on student health.
“As government leaders, we have a responsibility to protect our most valuable resource—our children—by exhaustively testing all water in our schools,” Grosso, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Education, said in a statement on Friday. “I have called on [D.C Public Schools] and [Public Charter School Board] leadership to oversee the completion of testing all waters sources and report back to the Committee in June about the status of their schools.”
The Department of General Services, which operates District buildings, told the Post it conducts water fountain testing every year, adding that 17 of 3,400 sources were determined to be below standards last year. “Where we need to improve is that we need to test every water source inside and outside the school,” a spokesperson for the department told the Post on Thursday.
A committee staffer says a specific date for the hearing hasn’t yet been set, but representatives from DCPS, PCSB, DGS, and the District Department of Energy & Environment will be asked to testify.
Update 4:12 p.m.: A staffer for Grosso provided additional details about DGS’ testing of “all the drinking-water sources” at CHM@L, lab results for which came back late yesterday:
“DGS sampled 57 locations. Two locations had results about above 15 parts per billion. The Kitchen Staff Restroom Sink results [were] 51 ppb, and the Classroom 108 Restroom Sink (low sink) was 110 ppb. Last night, DGS plumbers installed filters on both sinks and turned them off. They will resample those locations today and return them to service after they receive lab results.”
“If your tap water contains lead at levels exceeding [the Environmental Protection Agency’s] action level of 15 ppb, you should take action to minimize your exposure to the lead in the water,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery