By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Water quality concerns recently reported at San Benito CISD rural campuses have an apparent history that dates back at least seven years.
SBCISD Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón said Tuesday that the water discoloration experienced at the district’s rural campuses also occurred several years ago. More notably, the superintendent pointed to April 2007 San Benito News articles that reported the outcome of several community meetings held at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in La Paloma, located outside San Benito’s city limits, where dozens of residents gathered at that time to express their concerns on rust- and yellow-colored water.
“It’s something that happens from time to time, and I think (discoloration happens) because it’s well water,” Limón said. “It’s depending on certain times of the year, and with the rain it reacts differently.”
On Friday, SBCISD officials confirmed that the same discoloration prompted the distribution of bottled water at five campuses: Riverside Middle School, La Paloma Elementary, La Encantada Elementary, Rangerville Elementary and Angela Gerusa Leal Elementary. Limón said that distilled water is also being used to cook at these schools and that similar measures were taken in 2007.
General Manager Ramon Rosales of the Military Highway Water Supply Corporation, which provides water to the area in question, said that the discoloration is created by minerals naturally found in well water and deemed it safe to drink. Still, Limón stressed that the use of bottled water at the aforementioned campuses remains a precaution.
“Military Highway’s flushing the lines and getting that taken care of,” Limón said. “The water is allegedly good to drink, from what we’re told, but nobody wants to drink yellow water. So we want to provide our students with water, and instead of buying small, individual bottles we provided gallons.”
What’s more, Limón addressed recent speculation that classrooms were limited to one gallon, contending that “there was never a limit.”
“They (teachers and students) could have gotten additional water if they needed it,” Limón said. “The only complaint we’ve received is that we didn’t give out enough cups to go around for students, so we corrected that and sent out more cups.”
District officials have estimated that costs associated with supplying bottled water for the schools are approximately $75 to $100 per day.