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Hillsborough School District Testing Water For Lead

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Hillsborough County Public Schools
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

There are more than 200,000 students attending hundreds of schools across the Hillsborough County Public School district. The average age of those schools is 50 years old.

Now, the district is in the process of voluntarily testing drinking water for lead in those school buildings and its other facilities.

Spokesman Grayson Kamm said that despite the district's financial woes, they are dedicated to seeing this testing through.

"We're going to look at taking about 9,000 water samples -- so each one costs money to test and it’s manpower involved, but in the end, it's worth it," Kamm said. "So we need to know for the sake of our kids, and our staff what we're dealing with and then, deal with it."

The health department advised the district to test water at schools built before 1978 first. So the goal is to have that done by late December.

Water testing started late last year after other large U.S.  school districts shared information that they'd uncovered major problems.

Kamm said they've tested the water at about 53 of about 250 buildings. 

"I would say that the good news is, of the almost 1,800 tests we've done so far, we've found 26 readings in individual fixtures. That's not zero, I know that. But it means we can easily get a handle on that, address it quickly and fix those problems," Kamm said.

The latest results and water testing information are available here.

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Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.