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DETROIT — Drinking water is being shut off at all Detroit public schools because the water in 16 of them was found to have high levels of lead or copper.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Wednesday that he’s turning off water at all schools “out of an abundance of caution” while more tests are performed. Officials believe old fixtures, not the water source, may be to blame.

The article goes on to state the following:

Detroit Public Schools Community District has more than 100 buildings and serves more than 40,000 students. The new school year starts next week.

The New York Times further reports:

It could take one more month for all of the schools’ test results to come back, Dr. Vitti said. He decided not to wait.

“Now that we’re seeing these higher levels of lead and copper, there’s no need to roll the dice,” he said of his decision to shut off the drinking water in all of the district’s public schools. He added that he had seen no indication that any students had suffered health problems because of the water.

The district had already shut off drinking water at certain schools because of concerns about lead and copper levels, but Dr. Vitti said he could not recall that decision ever being made across the entire district.

He said that students would still be able to wash their hands and flush the toilets, but that drinking water would come from water bottles and water coolers rather than fountains or sinks.

Students and teachers have complained of abysmal conditions in Detroit’s public schools, including moldy walls, crumbling roofs and a lack of adequate heat or air conditioning.

To follow is a joint statement issued by Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD):

Joint Statement from GLWA and DWSD on Lead & Copper Issue at Detroit Public Schools Community District

The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) want to assure Detroit residents and customers of GLWA’s regional system that they are not affected by the lead and copper issues that the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is experiencing. Aging school infrastructure (i.e. plumbing) is the reason for the precautionary measure of providing bottled water. The treated drinking water provided by GLWA and distributed by DWSD not only meets, but surpasses all federal and state Safe Drinking Water Act regulations for quality and safety. The water at GLWA’s treatment plants is tested hourly and DWSD has no lead service lines connected to any DPSCD building. The drinking water is of unquestionable quality. GLWA and DWSD stand ready to provide any technical assistance to DPSCD.

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