Thousands spent on bottled water in Saint John schools
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 6:31PM ADT
Saint John schools continued to deal with water problems Friday, but got a better idea of how long it will take to fix the problem, and how much the fix is going to cost them.
Nearly all of the city's schools are getting bottled water after the drinking fountains were shut off at more than 30 schools, due to high lead and copper levels.
In Saint John alone, the education department estimates the bottled water could cost about $40,000 a month, and elevated levels of lead and copper have also been found in nine other school districts.
Officials are trying to find the source of the problem.
"Sometimes it is the corrosion of the pipes in the building that's the cause," says New Brunswick Energy Minister Jody Carr. "Sometimes it is the water in the fountain from lack of use. There are a number of reasons why lead levels could be higher. Our best bet is to deactivate the fountains and provide bottled water."
No one seems to know how long it is going to take to get the lead out of the water in New Brunswick schools, but there are indications this may be a long-term situation.
There are schools in District 10 in southwestern New Brunswick that are still using bottled water, five months after receiving their initial test results.
City officials in Saint John say the problem will likely be traced to the age of the schools, rather than to the municipal water supply.
"It's not a problem with the water in Saint John," says Saint John Mayor Ivan Court. "It has a lot to do with the piping in the old schools. Many of the schools are 50, 60, 70 years of age. They have older pipes and over a period of time corrosion takes place."
Even more schools could be on bottled water before the school year is over.
There are still four school districts where initial water tests have not been completed.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron