Drinking water shut off at San Ysidro schools due to high lead, copper, bacteria

1600 bottles of water shipped in for students

SAN YSIDRO -  The drinking water at three San Ysidro schools has been shut off, after testing found high levels of lead, copper and bacteria in the water.
 
San Ysidro Superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca says it’s because the faucets are too old and contaminating the water.
 
“Those fixtures have been in place since 1973,” he told 10News. “We’re working to replace them now.”
 
A teacher at La Mirada Elementary noticed milky blue water coming from a fountain in October. Dr. Fonseca ordered them turned off immediately.
 
After test results showed the problem, he expanded that order in January to Smythe Elementary and San Ysidro Middle School. Both of those schools have similar pipes installed the same year.
 
Students put caution tape and hand written signs around the water fountains to remind each other not to drink the water.
 
The schools have been getting shipments of bottled water every day, at least one bottle per student.
 
There are about 1600 students between the three schools, and the money to pay for the water is coming out of the general fund.
 
“If it’s not good enough for my kids to drink, it’s not good enough for any kid. You can’t put a price on keeping our kids safe,” Dr. Fonseca said. But, he added the district would like to find some local companies that are interested in donating water to help defray the costs.
 
Parents, though, worry that the kids could still be using the bathroom sinks for drinks.
 
Analillia Rios has five kids in those schools. Her son told her they drank from the bathroom on Tuesday.
 
“They were running around and they were thirsty and there was no water,” she said.  “The kids are innocent in this, they don’t know what they’re drinking. They’re just thirsty and they will drink whatever they find.”
 
Dr. Fonseca says he’s told teachers to watch out for that, and that kids can get a new bottle of water whenever the need one.
 
Meanwhile, repairs are underway. The fountains at La Mirada will be replaced by the end of the month. The other two schools have renovations planned for the summer, which will now include new fountains and faucets.
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