Not Far From Flint, Contamination Has Left Detroit School Taps Dry

In Environment, States On

DETROIT — For a year now, Marcel Clark, a Detroit police officer and father of three, has been filling a 50-gallon drum each week with purified water for his family to drink. Ever since he heard about the water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., an hour’s drive away, he hasn’t trusted the aging copper and steel pipes in his house. He’s been talking to contractors about replacing them, and hopes to get the work done in the next few months.

“As a responsible parent, I said to myself, Let me go ahead and secure my family,” said Mr. Clark, 48.

But his children may have been exposed to tainted water anyway — at school.

The water fountains in all 106 schools run by the Detroit Public Schools Community District have been dry since classes began in August. The superintendent ordered them shut off as a pre-emptive measure, after testing revealed elevated levels of copper and lead in drinking water at some schools. After completing checks at 86 of the schools last month, officials announced that 57 of them had lead or copper levels above the federal thresholds that require action to be taken.

The situation has set parents on edge in Detroit, 60 miles southeast of Flint, where contaminated water sickened residents while officials dismissed their concerns for months, insisting that the water was safe. Flint’s crisis prompted Detroit officials to start testing school water supplies in 2016.

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