MANTECA (CBS13) — The arsenic in the water at Nile Garden Elementary School is an old problem. Janet Owen lives across the street and remembers the former principal visiting her seven years ago to talk about the water.

“He came over and said, ‘Jan, there’s a problem with our water. Somebody’s going to be coming out testing your well.’ I assumed it got fixed,” said Owen.

The water quality improved, but the arsenic was never fully gone. The Manteca Unified School District deputy superintendent Clark Burke said arsenic is common in farm soil. Nile Garden Elementary School sits in the unincorporated part of the county outside of Manteca’s city limits.

The state lowered the arsenic found in drinking water standard to 10 parts per billion. Nile Garden Elementary failed the test, so the school has been trucking in fresh water on an as-need basis. Water tanks are connected and pumped into the drinking fountains.

A local newspaper questioned whether or not the school would close, because it doesn’t have it’s own supply of clean drinking water.

“It is not going to close,” said Burke. “We’re excited for the opportunity to explore new avenues for clean, fresh water.”

For the past six months, the district has been conducting feasibility tests for three expensive options: building a water sanitation plant on campus, dig a new well, or connect to municipal water.

“We’re trying to look at the area and depths that have enough clean water, but it’s hard to do that in a drought,” said Burke.

Connecting to municipal water is complicated since the school is outside of the city and the city of Manteca is not obligated to extend its water line.

“If the state is willing to fund it, they may look to expand water service out a mile and a half outside of the city limits,” said Burke.

The next step is for school officials and the health department to meet with the city of Manteca.


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