The student news site of Midlothian Heritage High School

The Roar

The student news site of Midlothian Heritage High School

The Roar

The student news site of Midlothian Heritage High School

The Roar

Unfiltered Failure

Water Fountains on MHHS campus in questionable condition
Photo by McGlauthon Fleming IV
There are 10 water fountains on the Midlothian Heritage High School campus. Three of them have been moved below green on their filter status, four of them have filters that are unmarked, and three have green filter lights. – Made on Canva

Water fountains and the usability of them are an important aspect of student life on any high school campus, with Midlothian Heritage High School being no exception. However, of the 10 water fountains that can be found on the campus, three of them have filters that need to be replaced, and four of them have water fountains with unmarked filters.

“I definitely feel like it should get fixed because you’re not supposed to have unfiltered water given to children, y’know,” Jordan Gooch (12) said.

Two of the fountains have red filter alerts and one has a yellow filter alert. As the water refill stations have been a new but very consistent addition to public schools since at least 2019, many have had questions about what exactly the colors mean, including facilities manager and Assistant Principal James Spradley.

“I’m sure there is,” Spradley said. “I don’t know enough about it to be able to tell you. I haven’t really checked [the colors].”

Story continues below advertisement

Green light means the filters are working optimally, yellow means it is still operational but it soon needs to be replaced, and red means the filter is no longer working and must be replaced.

“If you have green on the indicator, it’s good to go,” Executive Director of Operations, Jose Martinez said. “The capacity for the water filters, depending on the model, there’s a 3,000 gallon filter and a 6,000 gallon filter. So, once it reaches that capacity, it will then go to a yellow to let you know it’s close to change out, then it will go to red. Once you see the red, maintenance or someone on the campus can submit a work order and then that work order comes to our system and we change it out.”

Due to the lights being a sign of the status of the filter and not the water itself, many have said that it is of the same quality as widely consumed tap water, which is already filtered in Midlothian and it should be fine to consume. Some students disagree with this assessment however.

“It needs to be filtered,” Gooch said. “If you’re giving water to a bunch of underage children, you need to have filtered water, y’know. You’re a school and you should have filtered water.”

There is also a new initiative to get to the filters, so they can be changed quicker.

“We’re working to put [the work orders in] a preventative maintenance program, so that we can catch it when it’s in a yellow state,” Martinez said. “So, that way, it never gets to the red state.”

Even without low functionality on the filters no longer making the water cleaner, the water fountains are seemingly notorious for not tasting the greatest among the students with many actively avoiding using them unless they truly must.

“To me the school water, it depends on the fountain, it tastes disgusting,” Tristian Jones (9) said.

Some have even had other experiences with the water fountains that make them seem even more unfavorable, such as water coming out in a way that looks very unsafe in the 800 hall.

“One time I went to get some water and it came out white,” Gooch said. “I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know about this’ and I went without water. It was the water refill station and it came out white.”

When asked about procedures for checking the filters, cleaning the water fountains, or maintaining the fountains in general, Mr. Spradley had this to say.

“Those are new with the bottle fillers and I think they’re about 100 dollars per filter, so changing them is pretty expensive,” Spradley said. “The maintenance department is saying it needs to be the high school to change the filters. Those are all pretty new so I don’t know the last time that they were changed.”

There are daily custodial procedures in place for the water fountains to be cleaned in order to prevent dirt and waste buildup, as well as the fountains being flushed and the filters changed every major break from school.

“Maintaining the system itself is through our custodial coordinator,” Martinez said. “He has a process in place where the custodians will just clean the system itself.”

Some students feel that this seemingly large lack of comprehensive or active participation in the maintenance of the water on campus is most certainly not a positive for the administration.

“I think [it’s] really inappropriate,” Gooch said. “There’s 1500 kids here and you’re not cleaning your equipment properly. You shouldn’t be doing that. You’re a school and you shouldn’t be doing that. Especially when you have that many kids, that’s a lot of kids that drink from all of those waters and you don’t know if they’re safe or not.”

Maintenance Service Coordinator, Nat Gomez declined comment.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *