Acid Found in School Water


Water fountains have been taped off as a COVID-19 precaution, but even with high acid rates students may fill their water bottles at the school

       “Our system exceeds the maximum contaminant level for Total Haloacetic Acids (HAA5),” the notice reads, harsh black lettering causing those entering the high school to pause. Despite the intimidating legal jargon, students have little to fear from what has become the latest in a series of problems with the school water.

       “As water runoff comes down Shadow Mountain it picks up magnesium, so they have to address it through the use of chlorine. When the chlorine level gets too high it causes acidic acid,” high school Principal Wesley Paxton said. 

       Over the past year, the school has had an average level of 60.98 micrograms of Haloacetic acids per liter of water. This is only 0.98 micrograms over the substance’s maximum contaminant level and the school estimates that the quantity of acid present will fall below this level before December 31st of 2020.

       High acid levels are far from an emergency, but the elderly and those with severely compromised immune systems should be aware that other schools in our area face high Haloacetic Acid levels as well.

       “The water is tested on a regular basis as a requirement by the state. They test here at the high school, at West Jeff elementary school, and at West Jeff middle school because we all share the water tank that is behind the high school,” Paxton said.

       While the water is being corrected students can still fill their water bottles at the school, though drinking fountains have been taped off as a COVID-19 safety precaution.

       “You can still drink good water from the bottle fill stations. The acidic acid doesn’t have short term effects, it has super long term effects. If you’re drinking it every day for years and years and years it would be a problem, but right now it’s temporary,” Paxton said.

       Though students should be informed on the state of school water, slightly raised acid levels are nothing to worry about.

       “It’s a temporary situation,” Paxton said. “It’s part of constantly managing the balance of the water, and they’re working right now to refine that balance.”