NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodEast Lansing - Okemos - Haslett - Williamston - Webberville


How Okemos Public Schools will plan to tackle elevated lead levels in water

Posted at 11:39 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 23:39:16-04
  • Video shows press conference held by Okemos Public Schools, discussing the Michigan Filter First law.
  • This law requires schools in the state to create a Drinking Water Management Plan.
  • Superintendent John Hood discussed how the district will use this legislation to update school infrastructure.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

On Thursday, Okemos Public Schools held a press conference to discuss how the district plans on keeping water safe in Okemos schools.

Superintendent John Hood said, "It's not our job to downplay, no amount of lead is safe in water."

Okemos Public Schools Superintendent John Hood was joined by Representative Julie Brixie (D) to discuss the Michigan Filter First law, and how it will be utilized to keep water safe at Okemos Public Schools.

"This is a proactive law, not a reactive law," said Rep. Brixie.

Representative Julie Brixie (D) speaks at press conference on Thursday. She says her own children went to Okemos schools.

Signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in October, this legislation requires Michigan schools to develop drinking Water Management Plans, install lead reducing filters on fixtures designed for human consumption, and regular testing on those filters.

This year, elevated levels of lead were discovered in several schools in the district. In response, every school in the district was tested for lead.

According to Okemos Enviornmental Resources, Room 107 at Bennett Woods Elementary reached 219 parts-per-billion, while the Band Room at Chippewa Middle School reached 81 ppb.

The Okemos School District has set their action level as 5 ppb, and the federal level is set at15 ppb, set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Right now currently in our buildings our students and staff are only drinking water out of filtered stations," said Hood. "And we have filtered bottle fillers with indicator lights on them, and in some areas we've supplemented with bottled water coolers right now."

The district says it has communicated these test results with parents to stay transparent and proactive about the elevated levels. Hood says the district has worked to replace old drinking fountains and added some water bottle fillers, and that the school is working with EGLE to implement the law's requirements.

The district says if parents would like their children tested for possible lead exposure, they should contact the Ingham County Health Department.

"We're also looking at potential infrastructure of where we might need to add new filler stations," Hood said. "So that means maybe hiring subcontractors, running new pipe, coming up with acceptable filler stations."

Hood says the amount of money this will cost is currently unknown, but as of now, he says the district has spent upwards of $60,000 on testing for lead, and adding additional filtered fountains.

"We know when it comes to lead and when it comes to the safety of students, that money is not gonna be an obstacle for us here in Okemos," Hood said. "We know there's some grant money from the state that we hope to utilize."

Michigan schools and child care centers will have until the end of the 2025-26 school year to create their Drinking Water Management Plans, and Hood says he hopes to have a plan ready as early as June.

Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.

Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.

Select from these options: Neighborhood News, Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook