Hillsborough County 6th grader starts bottled water drive

Hillsborough County

On the back of a trailer in front of his grandmother’s home, 12-year-old Anthony Johnson counted cases of water.

“The water came from different people and like, companies, ” Anthony said.

He’s collecting water to distribute to schools across Hillsborough County after the county started testing for lead in the water.

Although the law doesn’t require water testing, the district did so after hearing of problems in other places.

They have to test 1,800 faucets, fountains and fixtures, twice a day.

“We are still doing samples at schools. We are sampling all the schools that are 40 years or older first. We expect to be done with those by mid-September and then we will be doing all the rest of the schools and we expect all of it to be done by November,” said Tanya Arja, with the school district.

Anthony is delivering water out of an abundance of caution.

“I’m worried about my fellow students,” he said.

It’s not just to Hillsborough County, the 6th grader also plans to take water to Polk and Pinellas Counties as well, where there have been positive lead tests.

His grandmother said the idea started on day one.

“The first of school when the students came with no bottled water and he asked the kids, ‘do you have any water’ and they said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘do you know about the lead in the water’ and they said, ‘no.’ So he sent his sisters to my house to go get them each three bottles of water,” Cherylene Levy said.

District officials have gotten a handful of positive results from their tests, but say none at harmful levels and none at actual drinking faucets.

“We are following standards that are even higher than what the EPA recommends. They recommend that a fixture over 20 parts per billion, that they would be taken out of service. We go with 15 parts per billion,” Arja said.

Either way, Anthony wants to make sure he’s there to help if the need arises.

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