Falls Church HS Water: Murky but Up to Standards

By Jacob Brotman-Krass, Layout Artist

At Falls Church High School, we the students reap the benefits of being part of one of the top five counties in the nation. Compared to many other schools throughout the country, our school has much nicer facilities. Even so, it is still important to take a closer look at some of the issues that Falls Church faces. If you have ever filled a clear water bottle up with the normal water fountains at the school, you will undoubtedly have noticed that the water has a grayish tint. As fellow student Omar Yasin (11) recounts, “I filled up a clear water bottle the other day from a decent looking fountain—no noticeable problems—but I soon found that I could not see through the grayish liquid the school calls water.” With situations across America such as the Flint water crisis leaving many people on edge, there is little reason not to look closer into what we drink when we go to the school water fountains. The results of a recent water test showed Falls Church High School’s water to be clean. While our water passed the test, there is reason to think the results could be misleading. The test was done on sample water, not water taken out of one of our fountains. It’s more than possible that the water fountains themselves could be an issue. Many of Falls Church’s facilities are old; while the newer water fountains with dispensers made specially for filling water bottles are perfectly fine, some of the more ancient looking fountains give out water that has an abnormal tint. Falls Church Journalism took it upon ourselves to go around the school and test each fountain ourselves. The results were baffling. Almost every fountain had something notable wrong. Whether it was missing a knob or gave out an off color version of water, it became clear the fountains have become a problem. For instance, the water fountain across from room 108 in the main office hallway spouted an opaque gray water. Nobody in their right mind would drink water that looked that way, but water quality is not something that makes itself obvious when we go for a drink. Other fountains had similar problems. The fountain in the small hallway that connects the gym with the math hallway dispensed water that was not only off-colored, but also uncomfortably warm. In one of the top counties in the entire country, it should be an expectation to have clean water. There are many issues with the quality of our water fountains, but there are issues that have nothing to do with the county. The student body has its own role to play in maintaining the water fountains. While we have no control over the water quality, things like gum, food, and trash are commonly found in these fountains. The custodians at Falls Church do their best to keep our facilities clean, but it is not only their responsibility to do so. Falls Church has trash cans in almost every hallway and classroom, so there’s no good reason not to use them.
While it is clear there are issues with some of the fountains at our school, we the students may have to cope the Falls Church way. Our school has been requesting renovation for over 15 years, and it doesn’t appear that any remodeling is in our future. Some of the older fountains have their issues, but the newer ones seem to be much better. In the gym lobby and right outside the cafeteria, the fountains with dispensers made specially for filling water bottles produce the cleanest water. Not only are these fountains efficient for filling up bottles, they are in the best condition. The biggest issue seems to be that we do not have enough of these water fountains. Most people are not going to want to walk halfway across the school for a bottle of water, and frankly, we shouldn’t have to. Other schools in our county don’t tell the same tales of warm, off-colored water. Falls Church shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of country neglect, and we deserve to have more of the newer fountains. The water from the older fountains could potentially be perfectly healthy to drink, but no reasonable human being would drink that water without hesitation or doubt. We do not have to be content with water fountains that we know the county can replace—we’ve seen that the county can provide these nicer fountains. This has to be the end of murky water— and the beginning of a Falls Church with facilities equal to the rest of the county.