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Detroit School Board Approves Purchase of Hydration Stations

Reginald Hardwick

About $3 million for water hydration stations and related expenditures was approved Tuesday by Detroit’s school board as the district deals with high levels of lead and copper in some school water fixtures.

Board members also agreed to the continued use of water coolers in all school buildings while the hydration stations are being installed.

The actions of the board followed tests earlier this year that showed elevated levels of lead or copper in 57 schools. Results are pending for 17 more schools in the 106-school district.

A review of the water testing results found that one school had more than 54 times the allowable amount of lead under federal guidelines, while another exceeded the regulated copper level by nearly 30 times.

The Detroit News reviewed hundreds of pages of water reports for 57 Detroit Public Schools Community District buildings that had elevated levels of lead and/or copper in the water. Detroit officials believe old fixtures could be to blame for the contamination in schools where water coolers and bottled water are being provided.

Hydration stations “will ensure there is no lead or copper in all water consumed by students and staff,” according to Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

The district plans to replace more than 800 drinking fountains with the hydration stations, which it said is a long-term solution to the contamination problem. They should be installed by the end of next summer, Vitti said.

Principals and school engineers will be trained to monitor the systems and replace filters.

District officials also said corporate donors have pledged $2.4 million to help offset costs of the stations.

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