Parents raise concerns over brown water at Polk MS

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Parents at a South Valley middle school say they are concerned with what the district is calling clean, safe drinking water. 

Brown water coming from the kitchen at Polk Middle School caused a Bernalillo County health inspector to close the school’s kitchen for a week. 

On Monday, APS officials say the kitchen is back up and running now. The school has the water tested before the county would reopen the kitchen.

APS officials say the results came back that the water was safe, but parents are still worried.

“I was worried about the kids drinking this type of water and what damage they would have, so I always have my kids bring their bottled water, or drinks, or Gatorade,” Violet Vaquera said. 

“I’m a little upset about it because for example my son is a cardiac kid and takes meds and needs water throughout the day,” Mother Briza Martinez said. 

“Yes, my granddaughter did tell me one day she was bringing water from the house, little bottles, because the water here was bad,” Grandfather Arturo Arias said. 

Back on Sept. 27, a Bernalillo County inspector ordered the school to close their cafeteria after they found discolored water coming from the sinks in the kitchen. Only after water tests came back saying it’s safe to use was the kitchen was allowed to reopen. 

The APS Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Gabriella Blakey said in a statement: 

“Test samples never came back with unhealthy water. It is tested regularly and drinking water is filtered and was never flagged. This flag was for discoloration of the water in the kitchen sink. The kitchen now has new filters.” 

An APS spokesperson also said Polk Middle School is one of the only schools in the district that is not connected to the city water lines and relies on well water. 

But parents say that shouldn’t be an excuse. 

“I don’t have a problem with well water. I drink it, so I can’t say that is what bothers me. But I can say it bothers me if it’s coming out green or brown cause it should come out of the tap almost clear,” Martinez said. 

“They need to work on getting it to city water, but with well water, I’ve grown up on well water in the South Valley, and it has never looked that bad,” Vaquera said. 

Blakey added they are working on getting Polk Middle School connected to city water. They have gotten the approval from the Water Authority.

Now, they are working on funding the connections. Blakey says it would cost the district $450,000.