Carlsbad Unified – NBC 7 San Diego


The Carlsbad Unified School District held another meeting Monday night to discuss a water contamination issue it hopes the elementary school has gone unnoticed for months despite student complaints.

Earlier this month, the district confirmed a cross-connection of drinking and reclaimed water lines, possibly during a construction project during the summer. Monday’s town hall gave parents an inside look at the area’s investigation so far and detailed some surprising facts about reclaimed water.

Carlsbad Unified School District board members apologized to parents during a special meeting. Dave Summers of NBC 7 tells the story.

The first is unsafe levels of copper, according to the plant that supplies reclaimed water to school districts. It is a byproduct of chlorinated water and is four times the acceptable level in drinking water.

The plant said the students may also have ingested nearly 10 times the acceptable level of chloroform.

“I can look up chemicals. I can Google everything, but I need you to tell us what will happen in 10 years,” one parent told school leaders.

Copper, chlorine, chloroform and other chemicals in the reclaimed water are used to kill bacteria in the sewage. Hope Elementary uses treated wastewater to irrigate its landscape.

Since the beginning of the school year, students have reported discoloration, odors, and complaints of taste multiple times, according to Assistant District Superintendent Eric Dill. The area confirmed contamination in early March, then spent a weekend fixing connections and flushing pipes.

Parents have expressed dismay at the city’s slow response to tackling the contaminated water. Melissa Adan of NBC 7 has more.

“It’s our kids and teachers, so I just want to keep them safe. It shouldn’t be an issue. They should take care of it and everyone should be tested,” one parent said.

Harmful chemicals present when water is polluted will no longer be present in students’ tests, said a pediatric consultant at Carlsbad Unified.

“It doesn’t look like something the body doesn’t expel,” Dr. Howard Talas told the parents. But that didn’t ease parents’ frustration.

“If you’re in this situation, you’re going to feel the same way,” another parent said. “You’d have that kind of compassion. Our kids were poisoned and irrational.”

The district says drinking water has been safe since the pipes were repaired, but many are wondering if the same thing will happen again.

“I didn’t get a straight answer,” said parent Kim McConnell. “I think there are still a lot of open questions.”

Parent Chris Davidson agreed.

“There was nothing satisfying about that meeting,” he said.

With no more samples of contaminated water flowing through Hope Elementary’s drinking water, the district may never know exactly what students and staff drank.

It’s unsettling council parents, who say they have lost confidence in the school’s leadership.

According to district representatives, some of the contaminated drinking water at Hope Primary is filtered through the school’s system before children drink it, but water used in the kitchen and some special events is not.

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