A dog’s reluctance to drink from a bowl in a San Diego classroom led to the discovery of lead in the school’s water system, and testing of all pipes in the San Diego Unified School District will begin soon.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that parents and staff members at Emerson-Bandini Elementary and the San Diego Co-Operative Charter School 2, which share a campus, were told about the water problem on Friday.

A teacher at the charter school noticed in late January that her therapy dog would not drink from a bowl filled with water from the classroom sink. The teacher then saw a sheen on the water, which prompted the district to sample numerous water outlets on the campus.

After detecting contaminants that exceeded the state’s allowable level, the district has asked the City of San Diego to test all district properties, including its 187 campuses.

The district says students at the two schools are receiving bottled drinking water until the water is safe to drink.

Tests on other district sites will begin April 4 and will be complete before the semester’s end in June, says Drew Rowlands, chief operations officer with the district.

"We will be using a geographic approach that provides the most efficient testing," Rowland says. "Five schools will be tested daily, beginning at the southeast corner of the district where some of the oldest district schools are located. City staff will work their way north and west until all of the testing is done.

"Testing will occur in the early morning hours, before the school day begins. Up to five samples will be taken at each site. The sampling locations may include drinking fountains, cafeterias and food preparation areas. The city will analyze the water samples and notify the school district of the results.

"If results indicate there is lead above allowable levels, district staff will determine the source of contamination and take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis (e.g., turn off water, replace fixtures and/or make plumbing repairs)."


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