Parents upset about dirty water at metro elementary school

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Last week, a parent wasn’t sure what was wrong with the water coming out of a drinking fountain at his son’s school, but he knew he didn’t want him to drink it. 

“I had my son get a drink pretty much from the fountain, and it did not look right to me at all. It looked very foggy and kinda disgusting looking. I stopped him from drinking that water,” said Jean, whose son goes to Whittier Elementary School.

KRQE News 13 showed the picture of water from Whittier to several parents Friday evening. 

“Oh, yeah that looks gross,” said Sophia.

“It looks like bleach almost, like a yellowish color,” said Deandra.

Parents wanted to know how often the water looks the foggy color it does in the photo. According to the district, that’s what the water at some older schools looks like if it’s not flushed every Monday morning. 

“When water stands in piping like that, that’s old over a weekend – a long weekend, a holiday – it tends to pull out properties like rust and it kinda tints the water,” said John Dufay, the Executive Director of Operations at APS.

Dufay says, most importantly, the water is safe to drink. 

“The piping is safe. The water is safe. The problem we have is when the water sits it tends to pull out the rust in the galvanized piping,” said Dufay. 

Dufay says the district is currently in the process of fixing that problem, at more than one school in the district. 

“We are in the process of replacing those types of piping systems throughout the district. We already completed seven projects and we got another eight projects to do,” said Dufay. 

This year, Whittier, Mark Twain, and Van Buren schools are scheduled to get new pipes. That should eliminate the discolored water problem. 

“Everything new that we do is all copper piping,” said Dufay. 

Until that happens, custodians will have to keep flushing the water, which, Dufay admits is wasting a precious resource. 

“The sad part about flushing is it’s in conflict with conservation. To flush the school and to flush it properly and utilizing USEPA protocol, which we do, we have to flush the school for a long time. You end up wasting water,” said Dufay. 

To balance it out, the district is planning to add water bottle filing stations at schools. 

The district says they already have money in the budget to replace pipes at all older schools. To do that in an elementary school, it costs APS anywhere from $90,000-140,000.

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