Indian Hill Elementary School in River Hills is undergoing renovations after high levels of lead and copper were discovered in the school’s well.
Unlike Maple Dale School, Indian Hill uses well-water because the Village of River Hills hasn’t decided to become dependent on the city’s water source.
An annual water test prompted the discovery, kick-starting the replacement of the school’s water filtration system, a project that had been planned to start this summer. Director of Operations, Jim Beckmann, said the reason for the water problems could have been a number of things.
“It may be that the system isn’t capable of doing it because the ground water changed,” explained Beckmann. “This summer, with all the flooding we’ve had, with the amount of rain, with the amount of runoff, with the amount of construction on Brown Deer Road – we may have upset the water table. Our well is 1,000 feet from the road, so it could have been all kinds of stuff.”
Beckmann said the cost to replace the iron filtration system will be approximately $40,000. For now, however, the school has gone through steps to assure the water is safe for drinking. They’ve installed six bottled water dispensers throughout the school and have turned off older bubblers without proper filters attached. The newer water fountains that were installed over the past summer have mechanical filters in them, making the water safe to drink.
The bottled water delivered to the school comes at a slight cost. Beckmann says although the six base units were free, the cost for the water is $6.50 a bottle.
The school has also been working with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure everything is up to code. By law, the school is required to monitor and test the levels of lead and copper for the next six months, but Beckmann said the problem will be resolved long before that.
“We have to do more testing,” said Beckmann. “We did testing just last week, but we haven’t gotten the results back yet. It’ll be a series of testing probably weekly, if not bi-weekly, to know when we’re back to normal levels.”
With similar problems resolved in years past, parents of current students are urged not to worry. Beckmann says there’s no danger, and a letter has been sent out to parents outlining the situation.
“I know that once parents read the letter carefully and understand that everything will be fine, they should understand that it’s being handled,” said Mary Jordan Dean, District Administrator and Principal of Maple Dale School.
Dean said the district has taken thoughtful steps, and she thinks they’re very much on top of the situation.