Are Easts water fountains safe?


photo by Michael Morrisett

Water Fountain old cafeteria

Ella Gray

 A student gets a drink from a porcelain water fountain, but when they turn the fountain on, the water looks discolored and tastes like iron. Rusty and unappetizing water from porcelain water fountains is the reality for East E-Rabs. 

 When the field house was built, new filtered and clean water fountains were installed. Last year, Steve Heidel, Production Academy Principal, says he led the installation of three new filtered water fountains in the main hallways of the school, although other old water fountains throughout the school still remain. 

 Our newspaper staff recently took samples from the old cafeteria’s porcelain water fountain. After sitting for a minute, the water turned an unappetizing yellow. When the sample sat over the weekend, it became yellow and had rust-colored sediment on the bottom. I was repelled by the color of the water and wanted to see if school administrators knew about this issue. 

   “I have not heard anything about that from anybody,” said Heidel. 

  After showing Heidel, I invited Jim Parker, principal, to come in so I could show him our findings. Parker was concerned by the color and decided to call a meeting with Wilson Bailey, RPS205 Director of Facilities and Guy Carynski, RPS205 Environmental Manager, to discuss the issue and to get some answers on what exactly was going on. He invited myself, Elijah Freet, Editor-in-Chief, Michael Morrisett, Chief Photographer, and Heidel to participate.

   This meeting was held Nov. 4. Bailey and Carynski both pointed out that they are aware of the water issue, but Bailey says that they used the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund money, money given from the Federal Government regarding COVID-19, for air conditioning system installment in the next few years. 

 “You can’t bring your own HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning), but you can bring your own water bottle,” said Bailey.

   Though I do agree with his statement, some students do not have clean water at home and rely on the school for clean water. The filtered water fountains, though clean, are not everywhere. Carynski said to run the water in metal and porcelain water fountains for 30 seconds before drinking, or in our case sampling, the water. I decided to time both the filtered water fountain on the third floor and one of the old cafeteria’s porcelain water fountains. It took me 12 seconds to fill up a 16-oz water bottle with the filtered water fountain, and 15 seconds to fill the bottle in the old cafeteria. 

   The students have to choose between the porcelain or metal fountains if they are not near a filtered water fountain. Bailey did acknowledge that though the water was discolored and unappetizing, it was not dangerous to anyone who drank it. 

      We were instructed to take 15 samples of water from porcelain water fountains from different places in the school. Those samples will be tested through RPS205, and we will get results of what exactly is in the water. We have not yet received any further information regarding the sampling, but we will do a follow-up story in our next issue to update.

 As the meeting followed, more solutions were discussed. Both Bailey and Carynski told us that they were working on phasing out the porcelain water fountains first, as they seem to contain the most sediment. 

    What about the first taste of the water? 

  “…sorta metallic; like with a metal taste,” said Isabella Enright, class of 2024. 

   And the aftertaste? 

  “…the aftertaste tastes like mildew…,” said Reggie Pinedo, class of 2023.