SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Students across the San Diego Unified School District will start to notice new filtered water dispensers installed around their campuses.
The district on Tuesday demonstrated the new dispenser at Cesar Chavez Elementary in Southcrest, one of the first of 24 campuses to get them as the district continues to roll them out. There is a bubbler for water drinking as well as a water-bottle filler.
San Diego Unified decided to install the so-called hydration stations after it discovered levels of lead above government limits at about 30 of its campuses back in 2017. The district tested the water after the crisis in Flint, Mich. If it found elevated levels, students got bottled water while the district fixed the issue. But it didn't stop there.
"We learned a lot of lessons," said Samer Naji, Facilities Communications Supervisor at San Diego Unified. "We had a lot of data to look at, and we just decided the right thing to do is just to go and put in these high-quality filtered hydration stations and to do it as quickly as possible."
The district has so far spent about $2.2 million on the project. By the end of next year, the district will have the dispensers at all of its elementary schools. The remainder of the campuses should have them installed by the end of 2024. They'll be around campus, in nurses offices and teachers lounges.
Naji said in the meantime, existing water fountains have been retrofitted with a device that will filter out lead.
On Tuesday, students at Chavez Elementary got free reusable water bottles, donated by the Rob Machado Foundation and San Diego Loyal.
Third grader Magaly, 9, took a drink from her new bottle and said the water was delicious.
"It helps you," she said. "It gives you life."