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Detroit public schools to shut off drinking water due to high copper, lead levels

drinking fountain
Detroit students will be drinking from bottled water this fall.

Detroit students won't be drinking out of water fountains when school starts next week.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District announced Wednesday that students will be using bottled water after tests showed elevated lead and copper levels at some of the schools.

Non-mandated tests were conducted on all faucets at all schools last spring. High levels of copper and lead were found at 16 schools. As a result, DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai P. Vitti announced he would shut off drinking water at every school.

In a letter, Vitti explained, "Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools (over 50) where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools."

Vitti also wrote that Mayor Mike Duggan approved of the decision, and "intends to require all city charter schools to participate in the same level of water testing as we initiated last year." 

The cause of the elevated lead and copper levels was pipes and fixtures in the schools, not the water itself.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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