Every San Antonio ISD school tested positive for lead in drinking water

The district should install filters on every tap

Clean water

Amanda Mills, USCDCP | Public Domain
Girl drinking from a water fountain

An Environment Texas review of drinking water testing data finds that 100% of San Antonio ISD schools which have undergone testing for lead in their drinking water have found the heavy metal in at least one water fountain or faucet in the school. Highland Park Elementary had the highest levels detected in the county, with a drinking water fountain finding lead levels of 685 parts per billion (ppb). 

Lead damages our kids’ health – affecting the way they learn, grow and behave. It has no place in the water that San Antonio children drink every day at school.

To stop this contamination, San Antonio ISD should install new water fountains with filters certified to remove lead. This single step not only eliminates a key source of lead (fountains) but also captures lead coming from plumbing or pipes within school buildings. Filters should also be installed and maintained on all other taps used for cooking or drinking. As explained in our “get the lead out” toolkit, these measures are the most effective steps to keep our kids’ water safe. With overwhelming bipartisan support, Michigan is now requiring these steps for all schools.

Unfortunately, it appears that San Antonio ISD is (so far) is only committing to take action at the roughly 4 percent of outlets where testing showed lead concentrations at or above 15 parts per billion.  This approach is severely flawed. Because lead testing is highly variable, the water from a fountain or faucet can be “highly hazardous” even if several samples fail to detect lead. As long as there is lead in the plumbing or pipes, any tap without a filter can serve lead-laced water to our kids. Moreover, this SAISD response allows lead in kids’ water at levels 15 times as high as the limit recommended for schools by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The data used in Environment Texas’ analysis was collected through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program. 

We have long known that exposure to lead impairs development, learning and behavior in children. Yet we somehow allowed this toxic metal to be used in the pipes and plumbing that deliver our drinking water.

Our kids deserve safe drinking water wherever they go to learn and play each day. We need to act immediately to replace lead-bearing fountains with new water stations and filters on all drinking water taps.

School Highest value ppb # of taps above 1 ppb
Advanced Learning Academy 4.6 7
Agnes Cotton Academy 16.2 17
Arnold El 16 13
Baskin El 44 12
Beacon Hill Academy 5 11
Bonham Academy 4 5
Bowden Academy 14.3 48
Brackenridge H S 12.3 9
Brewer Academy 373.1 19
Briscoe El 3.9 7
Burbank H S 15.3 5
Cameron El 5.3 12
Carroll Early Childhood Campus 87.9 20
Carvajel El 11.7 14
Cast Med H S 1.3 1
Cast Tech H S 1.2 1
Charles C. Ball Elementary 123 20
Charles Graebner El 4 14
Collins Garden El 9.5 13
Cooper Academy At Navarro 4.8 12
David Barkley/Francisco Ruiz El 69.7 24
David Crockett Academy 5.5 21
Davis Middle 2.3 2
De Zavala El 24.8 10
Democracy Prep at Steward Academy 28.4 20
Dorie Miller El 3.8 6
Douglass El 14.6 34
Edison H S 17.7 4
Eloise Japhet academy 3.2 10
Estrada Achievement Ctr 1.6 1
Fenwick Academy 105.8 29
Foster El 20.2 3
Fox Technical H S 70.8 28
Franklin El 4.2 13
Gates El 202.6 24
George E Kelly El 315.2 4
Gonzales Early Childhood Campus 2.6 6
Harris Middle 6.9 3
Hawthorne Pk-8 Academy 8.1 13
Herff El 57.4 30
Highland Hills El 312 12
Highland Park El 685.7 10
Highlands H S 9.8 14
Hillcrest El 70.7 26
Hirsch El 16.9 13
Hot Wells Middle 12 6
Houston H S 9.3 11
Huppertz El 11.2 13
Irving Dual Language Academy 4 17
J T Brackenridge El 5.3 9
Jefferson H S 3.2 13
Knox Early Childhood Campus 10 11
Lamar El 3.1 8
Lanier H S 7.9 10
Longfellow Middle 20.6 7
Lowell Middle 7 7
M L King Academy 67.3 7
Madison El 30.8 14
Margil El 7.8 16
Mark Twain Dual Language Academy 114 15
Maverick El 4.4 15
Mission Academy 10.5 26
Muriel Forbes El 20.2 11
Neal El 2.8 18
Nelson Early Childhood Campus 6 17
Ogden El 2.1 4
Pershing El 107.5 19
Poe Middle 14.1 14
Rhodes Middle 33.4 11
Riverside Park El 16.9 12
Robert B Green El 14.2 20
Rodriguez Montessori El 17.7 9
Rogers Academy 10.1 19
Rogers Middle 33.6 6
Sarah S King El 1.5 6
Schenk El 84.3 29
Smith El 133.7 22
Steele Montessori El 2.1 9
Storm El 26.7 6
Tafolla Middle 7.9 8
Travis Early College H S 2.2 3
Tynan Early Childhood Campus 31.4 14
WW White 9.7 21
Washington El 8.1 13
Whittier Middle 12 14
Wilson El 11.7 14
Woodlawn Academy 44.5 30
Woodlawn Hills El 14.5 21
Young Men’s Leadership Academy 9.6 6
Young Women’s Leadership Academy 100.9 24
Topics
Authors

Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.

Sophie Velez

Intern

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