Jersey City set to re-open water fountains at 15 schools after lead remediation

JERSEY CITY - Jersey City's Board of Education says the pipes have been replaced in 15 public schools where lead in drinking water was a problem.

Water fountains are set to reopen to kids in the coming weeks.

There are still 25 more schools the district has a lot of work to do on — before kids can have access to safe drinking water.

"We are satisfied that it is being addressed," said Brigid D'Souza, a mom of two and a parent leader with Jersey City Together, a non-profit group of community organizers. "We will be satisfied when children in every school can drink water from a water fountain and parents and those kids can feel safe."

In the 15 schools where water fountains are expected to reopen this month, the all that needs to be done is some final 'reassurance' testing to be sure the fixes worked. Pipes and water fountains that contained lead were replaced.

"For the first time in 10 years, children attending the public school system in Jersey City will have access to safe and clean drinking water," said Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas.

In the interim, they will continue to bring in bottled water to schools. A temporary and costly solution the district has relied on for 6 years.

Here are the 15 schools with water fountains set to reopen in November:

  • School 11
  • School 15
  • School 20
  • School 23
  • School 23 West
  • School 24
  • School 26
  • School 30
  • School 29 Annex
  • School 23 Trailers
  • Dr. Maya Angelou School
  • Renaissance Institute
  • McNair High School
  • Liberty High School
  • Board of Education Offices
  • Cavern Point Athletics Complex

The 25 schools that still need lead remediation will be more intense to fix and more costly than the first batch because some of the lead pipes in those schools are buried underground.

The goal is to get all public schools in Jersey City to be lead-free by the start of the 2020-21 school year. How much it will cost is still an open-ended question.

"At this point we don’t know what the cost estimate is. But it could be as low as $4-$5 million. It could be as high as $15 million," said Thomas. "So we will know the exact figure by December when we do a complete evaluation and we’ll put out a schedule for the remaining 25 schools by middle of December."

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