After lead scare, NUSD continues testing its water

The Nogales Unified School District is participating in a voluntary water testing program offered through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality after district-sponsored water testing last August and September turned up excessive levels of lead and copper at Desert Shadows Middle School.
“Now this program through ADEQ is funding a water-screening program to test the drinking water at schools statewide, and as I mentioned, we are participating to test the drinking water at all of our schools once again.” ADEQ began offering water testing at Arizona public schools in January in response to nationwide concerns about the safety of drinking water for children.
The program is designed to identify any school drinking water with lead levels that could pose harm to students’ health so districts can address those issues.
The program, which provides water testing kits to schools at no cost, has identified elevated levels of lead at 24 of 118 schools tested to date, or one in five, according to a spreadsheet updated weekly on the ADEQ website.
Though NUSD already conducted tests of schools water sources independently within the last six months, the district is taking advantage of the opportunity to again analyze the safety of its water with multiple samples at each school in the coming weeks, Parra said.
Abundant caution When initial results from water testing conducted by the district last year showed elevated levels of lead and copper at Desert Shadows Middle School, the district immediately covered drinking fountains at the school and began providing bottled water for students and staff.
Even so, the district is continuing to provide filtered and bottled water at Desert Shadows in what Parra called “an abundance of caution.” Working with the Arizona School Facilities Board (ASFB) and Dominion Environmental Consultants, NUSD determined that hot water heaters were the likely cause of the problem.
Parra added that the district is also working with ASFB to replace water heaters at all 10 district schools, starting with Bracker Elementary School.
“We have a very smooth system in place,” said Desert Shadows Principal Joan Molera, who added that to cut down on the expense of disposable cups, she also asked the County Superintendent of Schools’ Office to provide each student with a reusable water bottle.
“I think it’s always important when we’re dealing with children, and educators also, to be on the cautionary side,” she said.

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