A new water filter system goes into Milwaukee Public Schools
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A new water filter system goes into Milwaukee Public Schools

Aug 14, 2023

MILWAUKEE — A new type of water fountain is going into Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). These are not just traditional bubblers. They are both water bottle filling stations and a drinking foundation.

"Traditionally we have our water foundation and kids fill them up but kids bring their water bottles to school,” said Regina Navejar, principal at Frances Brock Starms Early Childhood Center.

She says some parents send kids with their own water but they should not have to.

Concerns about MPS drinking water led the district to test more than 12,000 water sources in the schools seven years ago.

"In 2016, MPS tested all drinking fountains, bubblers or whatever you want to call them, fixtures to start filtering water,” said Keith Posley, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools.

During that study, the district found that 94 percent passed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards but 6 percent did not. The reasons included some having high lead levels. After that, the district turned off the fountains that did not pass and by 2019, STARTED a program to ensure all water entering MPS was safe.

"As a result of that program, we also then instituted a filter program on all drinking sources,” said Michelle Lenski, manager of design and construction at Milwaukee Public Schools.

“When we did install the filtration level we did retest those to ensure that the levels would drop below and that the filtration systems were adequately working and functioning,” said Craig Wentworth, environmental health and safety supervisor at Milwaukee Public Schools.

The district says since then, it has used two different filtering systems. But with Zurn Elkay Water Solution giving MPS $2 million, it has now moved to put the district onto one system that includes these water bottle fillers. The district is paying to install the equipment and the company will provide free water filters for five years.

"Having these water filtration units will ensure our students have access to safe, healthy drinking water,” said Navejar.

MPS says the last time all the water was tested was in 2019 after the filters were installed. They have no plans to do any new testing moving forward.

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