In the middle of last week, Detroit authorities ordered drinking water shut off at all city public schools after elevated levels of lead and copper were found in water at more than a dozen buildings with antiquated plumbing systems. Crews are working now to cut water at 16 schools and bottled water will be provided until water coolers arrive.

Detroit’s drinking water comes from the Detroit River.

Although there is no evidence of excessive levels of copper or lead in other schools, Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti decided to shut off water throughout the system “…until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools.”1

Officials don’t believe any children have been harmed but want to be cautious. A move we, and parents all over Detroit no doubt, applaud.

“About 50,000 students are enrolled in the district, which operates 110 schools, according to its website. Detroit public schools students are due to start classes on Tuesday, although teachers are already working.

The Great Lakes Water Authority and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department said in a statement that the water, after treatment, surpassed all federal and state standards for quality and safety. They attributed any drinking water contamination in the affected schools to the antiquated plumbing in the buildings.”2


Water is a sensitive issue in Michigan given what happened in Flint and Rockford in the last couple of years.

Sources and References

  1. Reuters, August 29, 2018.
  2. Reuters, August 29, 2018.