The Homestead Drinking Water Is Safe (We Think…)

Matthew Quintos, Online Editor

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Many students have questioned the quality of the drinking water at Homestead. Some students insist on bringing pre-filled water bottles from home, while others trust that the Homestead fountain water is suitable for drinking.

 “[The water] tastes fine,” Bethany Villaruz (12) said. “Stop worrying about the lead, it’s free water.”  

Currently, many drinking water fountains remain closed due to testing positive for lead last year. While 93% of fixtures did not test positive for lead, 77 fixtures in the SACS district did test above EPA guidelines. There are 38 drinking fountains still in operation throughout the high school. In this issue, we decided to do our own independent lead and copper tests. 

 

It is important to note that the Spartana was limited in funds for water testing, and our conclusions are by no means comprehensive. In a perfect world, we would have been able to test more drinking fountains for more than just the contaminants of lead and copper.

 

Additionally, it is important to note that all of the lead tests conducted for this issue were done on the drinking fountains still open for student use. We would still like to advise students not to use any of the currently closed drinking fountains. 

 

Lead testing was conducted by CF Environmental Laboratories. CF Environmental is listed as a Certified Drinking Water Laboratory with the state of Indiana. On August 29th, two Homestead water fountains were tested. The basis on which water fountains were tested was decided by our staff members. Each member was asked to identify the “sketchiest” drinking fountain. The results from our informal survey determined that the drinking fountains in the Freshmen Academy and the cafeteria were going to be the test sites. 

 

The EPA conducts water testing by taking a “first draw” of water. Like the name suggests, a “first draw” means that the water collected from the fixture needs to have been left sitting for at least six hours. This way, any potential hazardous material in the plumbing can successfully latch on or contaminate the drinking water. For water tests, we took samples first thing in the morning to achieve the necessary wait time. This ensured our sampling technique mimicked that of the EPA. 

 

The Homestead drinking water, in the fountains we tested, did not have lead or copper levels that exceeded the stringent EPA limits. The drinking water in the cafeteria was found to have 0.306 mg/L of copper in its water. The EPA limit for copper in drinking water is 1.3 mg/L, so the cafeteria drinking water was well within the normal limits. In addition, the cafeteria drinking water had a lead total of less than 0.002 mg/L. The EPA limit for lead is 0.015 mg/L, so once again, the lead levels fell below the EPA limit. It is important to note that CF Environmental has a lead reporting limit of 0.002 mg/L, so the lead levels in the cafeteria drinking water fountain are below the reporting limit of CF Environmental. 

 

The drinking water fountain tested in the Freshmen Academy also fell within the EPA limits. The Freshmen Academy drinking fountain was found to have 0.305 mg/L of copper in its water. The EPA limit for copper in drinking water is 1.3 mg/L, so the Freshmen Academy drinking water was well within the EPA limits. Additionally, the Freshmen Academy lead levels were found to be less than 0.002 mg/L. The EPA limit for lead is 0.015 mg/L, so once again the lead levels fell below the EPA limit. It is important to note that CF Environmental has a lead reporting limit of 0.002 mg/L, so the lead levels in the Freshmen Academy drinking water fountain are below the reporting limit of CF Environmental.

 

While the water testing did come back normal, many drinking fountains throughout the school are still out-of-order. This requires students to walk longer distances to get a drink and face lengthened wait times upon their arrival. It does not appear as if the out-of-order drinking fountains will be fixed anytime soon; the Homestead administration is putting off plans for repairs and/or replacement due to the new school’s construction. 

 

 “As long as we have ample water access throughout the building we are not intending to invest in the units that are currently disconnected,” Park Ginder, principal, said.

 

With improvement plans on hold, students will have to wait to enjoy full water access at the new high school. 

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