San Joaquin County Finds Harmful Levels of Dangerous Chemical in Middle School’s Water

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LODI — The Lodi Unified School District is now considering ways to deliver clean and safe water to Henderson Middle School after a cancer-causing chemical was found in the drinking water.

A test in February by the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department found harmful levels of 1,2,3-trichloropropane. But a subsequent test in May found dangerous levels in well water used on campus.

The water to drinking fountains and faucets has since been cut off and bottled water has been provided for staff and students.

But California School Employees Association officials representing non-classroom school workers are concerned that with cold and flu season arriving, a lack of hot water could mean viruses and bacteria will spread more rapidly.

CSEA filed a complaint citing the Willams Act, which guarantees a safe working environment for staff and students. In addition, a compliance order has been issued by the county seeking a remedy.

The Lodi Unified School District is currently on its fall break but an official with the district contacted FOX40 Tuesday regarding the water at Henderson Middle School.

The district will be disconnecting its water system from the suspect well and installing a 5,000-gallon freshwater tank that will be tied to water faucets and toilets. Hot water for washing will then be available.  Bottled water will still be made available as a precaution.

The tank is expected to be installed before classes resume next Monday.  It will also continue testing water filtration systems that might be an alternative.

In the long term, the district is working with the State Water Board to obtain a grant which would allow it to hook up the school to the Lodi City water system about a quarter-mile away. That process could take two years or more.

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