Water hasn’t flowed from drinking fountains in the Portland Public School District for more than two weeks. The move was taken as a precautionary safety measure after it was discovered that potentially unsafe levels of lead were detected in the district’s water supply back in March.
The PPSD notified parents when they switched to using bottled water on May 27. Water flow was not shut off to the fountains or at the faucets of schools were higher than normal levels of lead were detected and parents demand to know why. The PPSD apologized for notifying parents sooner.
A Portland weekly publication released a report that the PPSD was aware of the situation as early as 2010. According to the report, at least 90 schools within the PPSD were screened for lead levels, and nearly 50 of them exceeded EPA “action required” guidelines.
Parents have questioned why the school district has not turned off the water flow at the drinking fountains and water faucets at those schools.
The PPSD has arranged to conduct two free lead screening clinics throughout the summer. The first clinic served more than 220 students, two of whom tested for elevated levels of lead.
The city of Portland was made aware that its water source, the Bull Run Watershed, was highly corrosive. The Portland Water Bureau has taken action to help reduce the levels of lead present in the city’s water supply. The PWB stated that they have added a minimum amount of chemicals to reduce the presence of lead, but residents have been skeptical of using chemicals to treat the water.
Only 10% of public schools in the U.S. are required to test their water supply for the presence of lead.