Search form

Donate Today


Portland Public Shuts Off Drinking Water After Finding Lead At 2 Schools

June 1, 2016

Portland Public Schools is shutting off all the drinking water across more than 70 school buildings, following the discovery of elevated lead levels at two schools.  

Portland announced plans to shut off the water to drinking fountains Friday, and keep it off through the end of the school year, June 9. Oregon’s largest district will rely on bottled water for students and staff to drink, and for meal preparation in school kitchens.  

Research has found that prolonged exposure to lead can cause developmental delays in children, as well as damage to their nervous and muscular systems.  

Portland announced the discovery this week of elevated lead levels at Creston and Rose City Park schools. A PPS spokesperson says the district has gotten requests from parents at several schools for lead tests. This summer, the district intends to test for lead at every school for the first time in 15 years. 

The decision to shut off drinking water came just hours after Superintendent Carole Smith apologized for a slow response at Creston and Rose City Park. Smith apologized for not immediately shutting off the water to the lead-contaminated fountains and faucets. She also expressed regret for not notifying the schools’ families and staff right away.  

“In addition to providing safe drinking water to all of our students, we will be taking immediate action to examine the protocols and procedures that resulted in delayed notification of our families and delays in shutting off impacted water sources,” Smith said.

“We are taking all of these steps out of an abundance of caution for our students, our teachers, and our staff, as we work to determine whether additional schools have elevated levels of lead in the drinking water,” she added.

The district also announced community meetings at Creston on Tuesday and at Rose City Park on Wednesday. The district said it's working with Multnomah County to provide free lead testing at Creston and Rose City Park, the week of June 6 — the last week of school.


Rose City Park School in Northeast Portland on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

Bradley W. Parks