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Fixing lead contamination in water will cost Oakland (Calif.) school district $38 million

15 Oakland schools have been found to have at least one water fixture with excessive lead levels.

The Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District says it will cost about $38 million to deal with high lead levels in water taps at about 15 schools.

The East Bay Times reports that about $22 million of the estimated cost is for replacing old water lines, and $16 million to replace drinking water and sink fixtures.

Oakland Unified spokesman John Sasaki says the costs of the proposed repairs will be spread out over five years.

The district plans to pay for most of the work through local construction bonds and grants. The lead problem comes as Oakland is in the midst of a budget crisis that has already prompted $9 million in mid-year cuts.

Fifteen Oakland schools have been found to have at least one water fixture with lead levels exceeding the federal recommended cap of 15 parts per billion, district officials say.

The district has already replaced some of the high-lead fixtures, and the others have been taken out of commission until they are replaced.

Advocates have urged the district to go beyond the federal guidelines and replace fixtures that have lead levels exceeding one part per billion. The American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed fixtures with any more than one part per billion of lead to be dangerous for children.

Jason Pfeifle, a health advocate for consumer group CalPIRG, has presented the district with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people; it urges Oakland schools to adopt a policy that would require the district to test every water tap and not allow more than one part per billion of lead in the taps.


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