CHICAGO (WLS) --With less than a week from the first day of class at Chicago Public Schools, the district is still trying to come up with a permanent fix for all the water fountains and sinks that were determined to be putting out water with high levels of lead: 184 water sources in all, across 113 different schools.
"As of today, 132 of those devices are back in service have been remediated or permanently removed from service," CPS Facilities Officer Jason Kearna said.
Testifying before City Council, Kearna said where possible plumbing fixes, such as piping replacement, are being looked at. But a comprehensive plan to tackle the issue of lead in the schools' decades-old water systems is still absent.
"It's not enough at all to say that we're going to discontinue use of those devices that have tested high. It's not enough to put a bag over it," said Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward).
"I want to make sure they're going to do what they're supposed to do to take the lead out of find out where it's coming from," said Mary Hartsfield, a grandmother.
Even small amounts of lead can cause developmental problems. The risk is highest among very young children, which is why CPS first tested all schools with a pre-K built before 1986. Among those that tested positive, West Town's Mitchell Elementary returned the highest number of affected water sources.
"We have to find available resources to do it. And revenue to do it," Ald. Taliaferro said. "We have to look at what's important and that's the health of our children that attend these schools."
There are 200 schools, mostly high schools and those built after 1986, that have yet to be tested for lead. CPS said that process will begin September 13 and should be concluded by November.