6 Berkeley schools shut off water source because of lead contamination

Daniel Kim /File

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Six schools within the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, were found to be in violation of BUSD guidelines for drinking water, as reported by the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Because of excessive lead contamination, water sources at Berkeley High School, Willard Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School, John Muir Elementary School, LeConte Elementary School and Hopkins Early Childhood preschool have been turned off. The school district sent out notification letters Monday to each school community regarding the test results of the water sources.

BUSD could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The water samples were taken in December from five “high-use water fixtures at each of the 20 BUSD pre-k-12 school sites,” according to the BUSD website. 

Any water fixture with levels of lead greater than 1 part per billion must be taken out of service until “the source is identified and remediated, and then retested,” according to BUSD protocol. Willard Middle School’s test results reported close to 17 parts per billion of lead at one drinking fountain.

The BUSD website lists a 10-month plan for remediating the contamination. The district plans to identify the cause of contamination for each tested fixture, fix the contaminated water sources and retest the water sources before opening them up for service.

Malini Ramaiyer is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.