How Healthy Schools Save Money
PHOTO © HQUALITY
“Water quality is becoming a global concern of increasing
significance, as risks of degradation translate directly
into social-economic impacts.” UN WATER (the United Nations
inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater
The World Health Organization (WHO) states: “…access
to improved sources of water can result in better health
and therefore better school attendance, with longer-term
consequences for [student] … lives.”
While schools in the U.S. do not share the dire concerns
affecting third-world countries, lead and other contaminants
in school water translate into socio-economic impacts.
Given the uncertainly of water source quality, it’s vital to
obtain your community’s annual Consumer Confidence Report
if your school gets water from a municipality, and if the
school has a well, to have the water from the well tested.
No matter where the water comes from (city or well), it’s
also crucial to test what comes out of taps and fountains.
Water contaminants may enter water closer to the point of
use; e.g. from building supply pipes.
Get the Lead Out — Testing, Testing, 1,2,3
Understand three points about the importance of testing
- Even small amounts of ingested lead can affect behavior,
impair learning and physical growth. High levels in the
bloodstream can cause nerve problems, coma, convulsions
and even death.
- EPA provides helpful guidance for preventing lead exposure
and on how to test for lead in its 3Ts for Reducing
Lead in Drinking Water in Schools guide.
- You can find a list of certified labs to test for lead and other contaminants on EPA’s site www.epa.gov.
Test First, Then Address the Issues
Assuming your water supply isn’t perfect, consider a Reverse
Osmosis (RO), Ultraviolet Light (UV) or Ultrafiltration
(UF) membrane filtration system for your school. Buying a
system scaled for an entire school is not cheap, but having
access to clean drinking water will pay dividends beyond
the investment in purification (improved test scores, higher
attendance and an untarnished reputation.)
What to Look For
Generally, vendors of industrial water purification systems
will test your water and recommend the best solution
or series of interventions, based on your water’s problems
and the volume of water needed.
For example, UV systems are effective at killing microbes
in water, while RO and UF are effective for removing particle
and other contaminants. The vendor will help in determining
the type and size of system based on your pollutant profile
and how many gallons per day (GPD) you are likely to need.
Some systems can be powered by solar arrays, but you
must have access to roofing or panel racks with a southern
Clean and disinfect water fountains, faucet screens and
We urge you to submit your entry for the Healthy Facilities
Award today. It’s not just a way to be recognized, but to further
your progress on the path to health and prosperity.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.