'Higher than acceptable' lead level detected in San Marcos school water fountain

Posted at 2:04 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 22:15:53-05

SAN MARCOS, Calif. - High levels of lead in drinking water has been detected at one San Marcos school.

Water tested from a drinking fountain at San Marcos Middle School contained "higher than acceptable" levels of lead, San Marcos Unified School District confirmed Tuesday.

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

The drinking fountain, located outside the school's gym, was removed following the results of the test, the district said.

"San Marcos Unified recently tested the water at three of our oldest sites: Alvin Dunn Elementary, Richland Elementary, and San Marcos Middle School," the district told 10News in a statement. "Of the 15 samples, only one came back with a 'higher than acceptable' level - a drinking fountain outside the gym at San Marcos Middle, which was immediately removed."

It's unclear how long the fountain's lead levels were that "higher than acceptable."

RELATED: Odor in water prompts testing at San Diego elementary school

In addition to San Marcos Middle, water from Alvin Dunn Elementary and Richland Elementary was also tested. Of the 15 samples sent out from the three schools, only one sample - from San Marcos Middle - returned with the "higher than acceptable" result.

The school district said they are currently having water tested at all schools in the district.

In February, drinking water at three San Ysidro schools was shut off due to test results that showed high levels of copper, lead, and bacteria.

Bottled water was provided to students at La Mirada Elementary, Smythe Elementary and San Ysidro Middle School while repairs were underway. The fountains at La Mirada were scheduled to be replaced by the end of February. Renovations planned for the summer at Smythe and San Ysidro Middle will now include new fountains and faucets.

Later in February, 10News learned that students from Emerson-Bandini Elementary were being given bottled water after reports of odor emanating from drinking water. Angry parents told 10News they'd heard little to nothing about the problem and were afraid children were still using and drinking the water in bathrooms.

“I got scared, I told my son not to drink out of the fountains,” one mother, who didn’t want to share her identity, told 10News. She said she was only recently informed about the issue at the time of the report.

A spokesperson for San Diego Unified School District sent the following statement to 10News in February: 

"When San Diego Unified’s Safety Office received word of a possible odor in the water at Emerson-Bandini Elementary School, the department acted quickly by sending drinking water samples out for analysis and providing bottled water to all students and staff at the school, as well as to the onsite charter school’s students and staff. The results of the water analysis came back showing non-detectable levels for bacteria. Yet, due to the complexity of this type of analysis, and erring on the side of caution, the district reached out to the County Department of Environmental Health to ask for a review of the water analysis. Until that input is received from the county and the all-clear is provided, the district’s Physical Plant Operations will continue to provide bottled drinking water. As always, the district’s priority is the safety of its students."