Questionable water

Maddie Gee, Freelance writer

Grace Padilla ‘23 feels sick when she drinks the South Campus school water. The foggy appearance and metallic taste make an unpleasant taste in her mouth, steering her clear from the fountains. People forget to ask how safe our water is, Padilla said. Everyone looks for fresh, clean, and unprocessed food, but what about our water intake? She is cautious of her water intake, and as a result, she buys bottled water or fills her water bottle up at home just to avoid the water at school. 

 “This is possibly a big problem because there could be something wrong and people could get sick from it,” Padilla said. “What if there is a health issue we don’t know about?”

Students all across South Campus bring reusable water bottles to their classes; although, recently because of the taste of the drinking water, students and facility appear to be concerned about drinking water from the fountains at school.

“I have seen the water when I’m the first to use the faucets after the weekend, and the water quality is visibly low,” Kristen Bacon, a Language Arts teacher, said. “I don’t trust our pipe system is putting out clean water, and I don’t care to put that into my body.”

Water fountains are located all across both North and South campuses. The different tastes could be because water from South Campus comes from Western Springs, Benard Casella, Assistant Language Arts Division Chair, said.  Western Springs has obtained its water from groundwater sources in wells, instead of La Grange and other nearby villages getting water from Lake Michigan. North Campus water is from Lagrange, and from the lake.

“Water is essential for physical health and everyone needs to have that basic hierarchy of needs taken care of first before any real learning can take place,” Casella said. “The Chicago Suburban schools have an expectation and benefit from Lake Michigan right next door that water is drinkable right from the fountain. In more rural communities away from Lake Michigan, water is hard or tastes like well water.”

To add, there has been news in the national media about municipalities’ water, how they are treated, and how old the plumbing is, which may be causing some worries, Casella said. With suspicious tasting water, some people in the school are purposely avoiding the water. 

“With my running, I have to stay hydrated. I perform better on the track and in the classroom,” Cross country runner Abby Boivin ‘23 said. “Sometimes I need to get water [at school] because I don’t fill it up at home, but if that happens, I usually am dehydrated from staying away from the water because of how it looks.”

Several of the South Campus teachers have chipped in to buy a water dispenser so they can have access to water they feel comfortable drinking throughout the day, Casella said. This is at least the second year that the water dispenser is in operation and teachers contribute money to buy water refills. 

“At the end of the day, maybe there really is something wrong and it could hurt people, maybe it is just a problem with a few, but it should be looked at,” Boivin said. “Your body depends on water to survive and needs it to work properly- without clean and sanitary water, students don’t have what they need. An environment that doesn’t give students what they need to get through the day is a major problem for everyone.”