Ensuring the well-being of students and staff members means providing safe, clean water. In some of our schools, inside plumbing or outside pipes that bring water into the building are old and may contain lead that can transfer into the water flowing through them. As a result, in most buildings, bottled water is used for drinking and cooking.
As part of our work to improve buildings, we have installed state-of-the-art water filtration systems in some schools and upgraded plumbing in new buildings or those undergoing extensive renovation.
In the 2018-19 school year, 14 schools have working water fountains and kitchen water supplies (though some areas — for example, in science labs — may still have water that is indicated as not suitable for drinking). These schools no longer receive bottled water for drinking or cooking. A further 5 schools use a combination of tap and bottled water, primarily with filtration systems installed at water fountains and bottled water used in kitchens.
Under Maryland law, school districts must test water from "drinking water outlets" (e.g., water fountains, kitchen sinks) in schools that do not provide bottled water as the sole source of water for drinking or cooking. In spring/summer 2018, City Schools tested water in 13 of the 19 schools with working drinking water outlets. (The remaining 6 schools opened for students in September 2018 in newly constructed or newly renovated buildings, with water tests conducted in summer 2018.) The district also conducts annual testing in schools with water filtration systems to ensure ongoing safety.
While initial tests showed elevated lead and/or copper from some water outlets at three schools (Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School 237, Leith Walk Elementary/Middle School, and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School), remediation has taken place and subsequent tests results have been clear.