PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Three years after discovering high levels of lead in the drinking water of its schools, Portland Public Schools is still grappling with the problem, with hundreds of drinking fountains still testing high for lead.

According to the district, all of the fountains that are turned on in its schools have lead levels within the range considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, but some 500 fountains, roughly 28% of the fixtures in the district, are still turned off because they continue to test high.

John Burnham, PPS' Interim Senior Director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the problem with those fixtures appears to be in the walls, and the district will be launching a pilot project to install filters on 35 of those fountains, spread out over six schools.

"The pilot is going to have functional drinking fountains with the specialized filters, and we're going to be monitoring the data weekly," Burnham said.

For parents, the district offers the most recent test results for each fixture at each school on its website.

Maya von Geldern, whose son was in kindergarten when news of the lead issues surfaced, isn't happy with how long it's taken the district to fix the problems.

"I would have liked to have seen it resolved within the first year of the issues, so it's a little frustrating," von Geldern said.

The district is exploring the possibility of major plumbing replacements, but will wait to see if the filter pilot is successful before moving forward, Burnham said.

The district will be testing all the fixtures in one-sixth of its schools every year.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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(4) comments

Terrell Higgs

After all the bonds, property tax increases, fund raisers, still it's not enough? You can repipe a large building for $100K, where did the 2017 bond of $790 million go?


The incompetence of the PPS system is truly amazing but a few million more dollars will fix that.


As a parent, I find it most frustrating that the acceptable lead levels is not 0.

kyle H

This IS a health-Safety issue that can have a significant impact on our children and it's been Three years of them doing nothing to address the problem. Sounds like we need serious New Management.., but of course nobody in Portland has the wherewithall to actually do anything other than whine about the feces these elected officials serve up to the community by the spoonful

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