LOWELL | When Lake Prairie Elementary School students return to school Monday, they will find all sinks and drinking fountains back in operation after a full semester of limited use.
Tri-Creek Schools Assistant Superintendent Nathan Kleefisch said Wednesday the school system will no longer provide bottled drinking water to students and staff as has been done since the school year began in August.
"Early on Monday morning, before students arrive, we will re-inspect the water to ensure its purity," Kleefisch told parents in a letter distributed by email Wednesday.
Before school opens, the entire system will be flushed to ensure no stagnant water remains.
The school has its own well and has long been plagued with water issues, most recently discoloration that made the water black at times.
Although its appearance was unappealing, Kleefisch said the water has met all water quality and safety standards during daily tests conducted the past five months. He said the bottled water was a precautionary safety measure and a means to relieve concerned parents.
In October, an independent water analyst, Steve Miller of Aqua Systems of Valparaiso, suggested steps be taken to ensure the chlorination system operates at optimum levels.
For that reason, Kleefisch said, another location to add chlorine into the main water supply was installed and a backup chlorine pump purchased.
On Dec. 21, members of the Lake Prairie Water Quality Committee, comprising parents, administration and staff, met to review improvements made and assure safety practices are in place.
Valerie Wilczewski, a parent who strongly voiced her concerns last year regarding the water's possible effect on student health, sat on the committee.
"It seems there's a backup plan now," Wilczewski said Thursday. She said she is satisfied there is adequate oversight and pleased with improvements made.
Kleefisch said parents are welcome to give their children bottled water for use in school if they still have concerns.