The City of Jersey City, the board of education, and municipal utilities authority are working together to perform lead remediation at four more schools, officials said.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The initial schools were, Ferris High School, the Ferris Annex, along with Public Schools No. 15 and 41, were identified by school officials as the most immediate need.
Additionally, the cost to complete the first two phases are estimated to be about $3 million.
“Despite the state’s draconian cuts to our school’s budget, we needed to move forward to fix the drinking water infrastructure which is why we stepped in on the city level to follow through and make this valued investment as the health and safety of our students and school staff is paramount,” said Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“Our parents, teachers, staff, and students have enough to worry about, especially amid the pandemic, whether or not their drinking water is safe should not interfere with their school day and their education.”
Under Phase 1 of the project, the MUA retrofitted the schools with clean water systems, including extending new copper lines from the street directly to the building.
This second phase, totaling approximately $1.6 million, will replace the water supply lines at four additional school buildings spanning the city.
Every water cooler in each building is being replaced with ADA compliant water fountains that are touch-free and have bottle-filling capacities.
Furthermore, new water fountains will be added within each building where they never existed before, as determined necessary for ample fresh drinking water supply.
“We are completely reconstructing each school’s drinking water infrastructure, which includes brand new water fountains equipped with touch-free bottle filling capabilities and direct lead-free supply lines,” added Jersey City MUA Executive Director Joe Cunha.
“We’ve been working closely with school officials to determine which schools are to be outfitted and the order of completion. We anticipate this next phase will be completed within ten months of inception.”
Officials from MUA and public schools will meet on how to proceed forward into Phase II, which will include Public Schools 4, 25, 38, and 39.
“We are working through all the JCPS buildings in smaller manageable groups in a systematic and strategic sequence,” noted Superintendent of Schools Franklin Walker.
“At each school, the hallway drinking water fountains and other locations – such as gymnasiums – are being targeted for immediate replacement. This work is being done as a supplement to the New Jersey Department of Education rules regarding lead drinking water compliance.”