A variety of sustainability initiatives were discussed during the Thursday, May 18 meeting of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.
While not a part of the board’s formal discussion item, several Malibu High parents and students spoke out in support of water filtration systems.
“This topic was a natural part of the conversation on the sustainability item on the agenda, as well as the item regarding deferred maintenance at our schools,” Gail Pinsker, community and public relations officer for the district, noted in an email to the Surfside. “The board heard about FloWater filtration systems during public comment and facilities staff will be looking at this as they continue to plan for the installation of filling stations at MHS and consider at other sites.”
Parents have been campaigning for filtered water availability at Malibu schools since last year, but the May 18 meeting appeared to be a turning point, with several board members speaking in support of the projects, too.
Mindy Peterson, one of the Malibu High parents who spoke at the meeting, said “it really felt like a groundswell.”
“It’s incredibly frustrating because we’ve gone now the entire school year and haven’t been able to provide clean, fresh water for our students,” she said.
Peterson said past systems were of concern due to maintenance needs, but the FloWater systems are freestanding units which are rented, freeing up some of the past liabilities that she believes were cause for concern among district officials.
Peterson added that funding has also been secured since last fall. Cornucopia Foundation, the City of Malibu and the Malibu High School Class of 2015 have offered funds toward water stations, she said.
The FloWater system costs $99 per month, per unit with a five-year commitment, plus costs related to filter changes, Peterson noted.
MHS parent Jennifer deNicola also spoke on the topic, and said seeing the students’ passion for sustainability was inspiring.
“I was inspired by the students’ passion and knowledge about what we all can and should be doing to protect our planet and our own health,” she said in an email to the Surfside. “These students give us all hope that protecting our environment will be the forefront of the future when they are running our cities and our country.”
Environmental Club member and Malibu High sophomore Lars Peterson was among students who spoke in support of the systems.
As a student-athlete who plays baseball and water polo, he said access to water is important, but he said many students think the Malibu High School water fountains are “pretty disgusting.” Currently, the students’ other option is to buy bottled water.
“The way it is is pretty unfair so I really think they should push to install these units to make it safe for everyone to drink the water at Malibu High School,” he said.
FloWater water is alkaline and electrolyte enhanced, with filters for sediment and carbon. The water also travels through a coconut carbon filter, providing a unique taste.
“Utilizing a system like FloWater or any other could be reviewed and approved as a consent agenda item as part of purchasing requests,” Pinsker stated. “We understand the high level of interest by students and staff to have these units installed as quickly as possible, and the preference that they include filtration.”
The district is also awaiting results from Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29 in regard to the quality of tap water at Malibu schools.