MPS students raise concerns about lead in water at North Division High School
MPS students raise concerns about lead in water at North Division High School.
A student group at Milwaukee’s North Division High School is raising concerns about lead in water sources there and has asked the district to provide bottled water until it can fully address the issue.
Milwaukee Public Schools said it has turned off every fixture — drinking fountains and faucets — at North Division and other buildings where lead levels were found last year to exceed the Environmental Protection Agency standard of 15 parts per billion and is in the process of replacing those.
But members of the advocacy group Youth Rising Up Student Union have complained about a lack of transparency and urgency in the process.
They are asking the district to install filters on all MPS drinking fountains and taps used for cooking, regardless of the test results, noting there are no safe levels for lead in drinking water.
MPS spokeswoman Denise Callaway said the water accessible to students is safe and that the district is in the midst of a three-year plan to add filters to every fixture used for consumption, including those that meet the EPA standards for lead.
Wendell E. Willis, MPS’ chief operations officer, is scheduled to meet with the group on Wednesday, in advance of a rally the students have organized to draw attention to the issue.
And it’s looking at other options, including philanthropic foundations, for funds to expedite the process.
"If the water is on, clearly it’s fine.
And if it’s not, we’re replacing it," said Willis, who is overseeing the efforts for the district.