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An abandoned building in Detroit. Photo: Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit's public school system, said that the drinking water will be turned off in schools citywide when students return due to increased copper and lead levels in the water.

Why it matters: The infrastructure of Detroit's public schools have been deteriorating for decades and is facing billions of dollars in debt, the New York Times reports. With no funding to rebuild its public schools in hand, there's no telling when the water will be turned back on.

By the numbers:
  • The city conducted water quality tests on 24 schools this year and found that at least 16 of them had increased copper or lead levels in the water — sometimes both.
  • In total, the city has 45,000 students attending 106 schools. Fountain water will be unavailable to all of them.
  • The city estimates it would take $500 million to completely update the infrastructure in all schools.
  • The city's school system is facing $3.5 billion in debt in combined operating and capital liabilities.

The backdrop: In 2016, Detroit found that the water in 19 schools was contaminated, the Free Press reports. That testing took place at the same time as the Flint water crisis, which also investigated lead contamination.

Yes, but: The root cause of Flint's health crisis had to do with the lack of adequate treatment of its water supply, whereas in Detroit, the problem may be antiquated infrastructure in the school buildings.

Go deeper

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.

Biden to Dems: This is my make-or-break moment

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.