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Dirty water at Philly high school prompts investigation

Health officials cleared the high school's discolored water for hand-washing, but not drinking.
West Philadelphia High School, at 49th and Chestnut streets.Screenshot / Google Maps

Yellowwater flows through the pipes at West Philadelphia High School.

School officials have told students and faculty to stop drinking the discolored water, which was discovered on Nov. 17, according to reports.

Drinking fountains were promptly shut off and the cafeteria is not using any of the school's water to prepare food, School District of Philadelphia spokesman Lee Whack said Thursday morning.The Health Department cleared the high school's discolored water for hand-washing, but not for consumption.

"Immediately upon getting reports about issues with water at West Philly High, we sprang into action as faras working with the [Philadelphia] Water Department in determining the exact cause of this," Whack said.

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Part of that response has included bringing in cases of bottled water to serve students and faculty. Whack said meals are being prepared at other schools, or the high school is using prepackaged lunches. He said the building staff is also working on flushing pipes.

The school, at 49th and Chestnut streets, held meetingswith teachers earlier this week, and has sent notices to parents regarding the issue.

During the summer, the district tested 40 schools throughout the city for lead contamination. The schools chosen were in neighborhoods where children had tested with high levels of lead in their blood, or if the building hadn't been renovated in more than two decades, Philly.com reported.

Testing is still not complete, but Whack said the high school's ochre-coloredwater is "not related to that."

He added, "that is a separate matter from what is the issue at West Philly High."

 
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