Poor Water Quality: A Problem at MHS

Lead has been found in samples from our school water fountains

New York City is highly regarded for its upscale restaurants, famous landmarks and never-ending nightlife, and is world famous for its tap water. One might assume that because of the urban nature of the city the water might not be the best in the world, but in fact the opposite is true. Huffington Post reports that “[m]ore than 1 billion daily gallons of sweet, mineral-rich water travels over 125 miles from carefully guarded Catskill Mountains reservoirs” and is used in tap water. The same could be said about surrounding towns and districts, including our humble Westchester County, where our school is located. Westchester Count
y Department of Health’s annual water taste test took place this past May and reported excellent quality drinking water throughout the district. However, this doesn’t seem to match up with recent tests of the water in the schools that are a part of this district.

Recently, the water supplies in the six schools in our district were tested for lead contamination. It was reported that 46 of the 339 water sources were over the legal limits of lead concentration. That is about 13% of the water sources in the Mamaroneck Public Schools. In a letter to parents, Dr. Robert Shaps wrote that the school has “scheduled comprehensive followup testing to verify results” (which were collected in July) with a goal of “determining permanent corrective action”.

Several schools across The U.S have reported lead levels exceeding the maximum amount. According to Environmental Protection Agency records examined by The Associated Press, more than 80 public schools across America have exceeded the legal limit of lead concentration in water supplies as of April 2016. There is also the crisis in Flint, Michigan to note as well, where water sources have been severely contaminated with lead since 2014.

In response to the growing crisis of water contamination in schools, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a law requiring schools to test their water supplies before October 31st.

It’s not like water in schools is expected to be amazing, right? However, we can pretty much all agree that the news is somewhat jarring. The majority of students do use the water fountains on a day-to-day basis, so it’s implied that the water should be safe to be consumed by students. According to http://www.healthy.ny.gov. com, if a structure has been built before 1986 there is a possibility of the plumbing containing lead pipes that could cause water to be contaminated. Mamaroneck High School was built in 1928, so there is a possibility the pipes could be corroded with the chemical element. This is a possible reason for the detection of lead in the water supplies.

It’s not news that the building is almost a century old and therefore it could be laced with harmful elements like lead. Though it isn’t possible to revamp the entire plumbing structure, filters for lead-based pipes have been available and can be put into the pipes to prevent water contamination. In addition, new water tanks can replace the old ones. However, it becomes hard to manage and more expensive than simply putting filters into the pipes as well. Lead is not something to be taken lightly. It can, in extreme cases, affect development of the brain and nervous system, which can cause long-term harm such as increased blood pressure and kidney damage.

The school district is said to be doing a lot to remedy the situation as soon as possible, but at the end of the day, it can be argued that this situation could have been avoided long ago. At least now we know to be cautious of the water supply and the effects it can have on us in the long run.

By Lauren Kroell

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