Nov 19, 2020

Legionella Bacteria Found in Birmingham Schools Water

Legionella bacteria has been discovered in an Alabama school's water supply.

water contamination

Legionella bacteria has been discovered in Birmingham Schools water supply.

In an email to families, district officials said that "during this year's water testing" they were made aware of "increased levels of legionella," reported Hometown Life.

All sites in the district have not been tested. According to the email, locker room shower access has been closed at both high schools, as well as at the middle schools while the issue is being handled. Students and staff at all buildings in the district are encouraged to bring their own water bottles from home.

"BPS will provide bottled water for drinking instead of using fountains or water filling stations until additional testing and any potential mitigation is performed throughout the District," the email read. "Taps that are not designated for drinking water should only be used for handwashing and other non-potable uses and are marked accordingly."

The district is working with the Oakland County Health Division and water remediation experts on a mitigation plan. The plan includes increased flushing of plumbing and retesting. 

According to Mark Hansell, OCHD chief of environmental health special programs, the particular species of legionella found in Birmingham is one that is least likely to cause disease. An injection into the water system of a biocide is planned as a secondary treatment if testing continues to show the legionella bacteria. 

Elementary students returned to schools for in-person learning in October, reported Hometown Life. 

According to Hansell, the county has not been notified by any other districts of water issues. Students and staff at one Birmingham school will shift to remote learning due to COVID-19 cases, so the issue of stagnant water may persist.

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