MPS receives donation for new water filters across district

NOW: MPS receives donation for new water filters across district

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) announced Monday it received a donation aimed at ensuring students will drink safe water. 

At Starms Early Childhood Center, MPS leaders were joined by representatives from Zurn Elkay Water Solutions. The money will ensure there are new filter systems in place for drinking fountains and bottle filling stations across the district. 

Water quality became a concern for the city's schools after district-wide testing in 2016 found 6% of the samples taken had lead content higher than levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

This donation from Zurn Elkay will provide filtering at 600 bottle filling stations and 2,500 drinking fountains over the next five years. 

MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley said the donation is a big relief and savings for the district. 

"These filters ensure that water consumed by MPS students, our staff, our families and community members remains safe for drinking," Posley said. "Thank you, thank you for this generous donation in order to make that happen." 

MPS Environmental Health Supervisor Craig Wentworth said the district last tested for lead in 2019. By then, there were filter systems in place, and the water no longer had instances of dangerously high levels of lead.

The action level the CDC set in new 2020 guidelines is 15 parts per billion. Wentworth said by 2019, most of the districts samples turned up lead in the amount of less than 1 part per billion, prompting the decision to end testing.

Michelle Lenski, the district's manager of design and construction, said the donation will ensure the filters in place are now all the same, making maintenance more simple and less expensive in the coming years.

"Instead of having two filter systems, potentially three, 'cause we have the Zurn-Elkay bottle fillers, now we just have one filtering system," she said.

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