CMSD Has Removed or Replaced 'Virtually All' Water Fountains with Elevated Lead Levels

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The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has remediated “virtually all” of the water fountains and faucets that were found to have elevated levels of lead in a 2016 study.

After the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, CMSD contracted a company to test its more than 1,700 drinking water outlets. Nine percent of them were found to produce water with lead levels exceeding the EPA’s “action level” of 15 parts per billion. This was in November, 2016.

At the time, the district promised to take “immediate steps” to remove or replace the 79 drinking fountains and 40 faucets with the elevated lead levels.

"In addition to replacing or removing drinking-water outlets, the District will also remove or replace other fixtures like restroom faucets or outdoor spigots, where elevated levels of lead were found," CMSD said in an operations report.

The lead tests covered 65 buildings built before 2002 and four buildings built more recently, which were tested "as a precaution." No water source in the newer buildings showed elevated levels of lead.

Scene has been attempting to obtain a status update on the remediation efforts. Shortly before our print deadline Monday, we received an emailed statement from CMSD’s communications team, accounting for the 119 water outlets.

“CMSD essentially finished testing and addressing the 119 drinking-water sources by the end of last year, proactive measures taken after concerns about water quality surfaced in other cities,” a district spokesperson said.

“Of the 119 sources, virtually all have been remediated, meaning the outlets were replaced, capped or, in a very few cases, a filter was installed. Exceptions include:
  • 4 at East Professional Center, an administrative building where students do not attend classes. Those have been shut off.
  • 3 at Iowa-Maple School. Those have been shut off and probably will be taken out of service.
  • 1 at Wilbur Wright School. This one has been shut off and probably will be replaced.
“In addition," the spokesperson continued, "a fountain at William Cullen Bryant School has been replaced but will not be activated until the water is tested.

“It is important to note that the District was under no mandate to test and remediate water outlets but did so voluntarily as a precaution to ensure staff and students have access to safe drinking water. Officials in the city health and water departments praised the decision. The District had portable water coolers installed while work was in progress.”

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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