The City of Ithaca is developing a new program that would allow Ithaca Police to divert low-level offenders to community-based services instead of arresting and incarcerating them, in an attempt to reduce recidivism rates as well as the city’s reliance on the criminal justice system.
Following complaints and safety concerns in Ithaca’s public schools last week, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on both the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to help evaluate and address the presence of lead in the district’s water supply. “I am calling on the federal EPA to step up to the plate and get all hands on deck to help the community test this water … and move forward with ways to remediate this situation,” Schumer said in a press release Friday. “We need the EPA inspectors and lead experts here, on the ground, as soon as possible to work with the school district to develop a plan and prevent any future contamination.”
Ithaca superintendent Luvelle Brown — who said Wednesday’s water shut-off was motivated by an “abundance of caution” — welcomed the intervention of the government on the state and national level. “The Ithaca City School District is committed to working diligently to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Brown said. “We thank Senator Schumer for his support and advocacy on our behalf, and we welcome federal health expertise to the area to work collaboratively with the school district to remedy this situation.”
Schumer stressed that New York state deserves Congressional legislation to expedite the process of purifying the water.
Following the detection of high levels of lead, the Ithaca school district shut off its water Wednesday, motivated by what superintendent Luvelle Brown called “an abundance of caution.”
A previous test of the water quality released in 2005 revealed levels of lead that exceeded the action level, but district officials are still investigating whether any action has taken place since then, according to The Ithaca Journal. This discovery follows on the heels of the Flint water crisis and ongoing public health emergency. Drinking water containing high levels of lead has left thousands of children in Flint, Michigan at risk of serious health problems.
Brown said in an email to district parents that the district will quickly take steps to evaluate the water’s quality. “Immediately, we will begin a thorough updated water testing and evaluation process in all district facilities,” he said. In the meantime, water bottles will be distributed to teachers and students, according to the email.