Safe Water Engineering

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Safe Water Engineering LLC was founded by Elin Betanzo to improve access to safe drinking water through engineering and policy consulting.

One Solution for Safer Drinking Water in Schools

There is lead in almost all our plumbing. Even "lead free" plumbing contains up to 0.25% lead, and prior to 2014 materials marked "lead free" could contain up to 8% lead. So we know there is lead in most school plumbing. We also know that schools have irregular water use patterns. Weekends with no one in the building, long breaks, and long summers with little water use. When fresh water does not run through the pipes, corrosion control doesn't get a chance to work when it is used in water treatment. That means that when there is lead in the plumbing in schools, there is usually lead in the water. So I wasn't surprised when lead was measured in the water at my childrens' school.  I knew we were lucky to have one filtered water bottle filling station at the school. I send my kids to school each day with a refillable water bottle, and they fill it up at school filter station whenever they need more.

It was a great opportunity to work with Dave Woodward and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha to acquire 650 filter stations in Oakland County. Now my kids' school will have two filter stations and schools across the county will have the option to have safer water. The filters will have to be replaced according to the manufacturer's instructions, but they have a counter that shows when the filter needs to be replaced. It's not a bad idea to test the filtered water periodically to verify that the filters are performing according to their certification. With these new stations available, all students, faculty, and staff should be directed to drink water at the filter stations. All other taps should be designated for hand washing and other non-potable uses. Once students adjust to this culture change of only using filter stations, we can stop sampling at all the non-drinking water taps and focus only on those that students and staff are using for drinking. 

Great job Oakland County.  While providing safer, more reliable drinking water quality we can also keep plastic bottles out of the recycling bins and landfills. 

 

Photo: Dave Woodward