Lead in water among health concerns at Miami-Dade County courthouse, report says

Administrative judge: 'I'm worried every day'

MIAMI – Add this to the years-worth of issues at the nearly century-old Miami-Dade County courthouse: Results of testing in February show higher-than-safe lead levels in the water from a fountain on the 17th floor.

On the seventh floor, there are concerning lead levels from another fountain.

"We immediately reached out to the public health department with this report and said, 'What do we need to do?'" Administrative Judge Jennifer Bailey told Local 10 News.

Regarding the fountains, Bailey ordered each one in the building shut off and provided bottled water.

She said relatively few employees likely drank from the fountains in question, and they've had no health complaints.

"Am I worried? I'm worried every day. But we have an obligation to provide civil justice to the people (and) county," Bailey said. "This is the building the county has given us to do it in."

She's not the only one with concerns.

"I think that everyone who has come in this building has used the water fountain," attorney Jonathan Drucker said.

From attorneys to court employees and the jury pool, many people might have been affected. 

"I've heard some horror stories about sitting in hearings and things dropping from the ceiling," juror Barry Givner said.

They know the decrepit condition of the historic courthouse. The lead levels now discovered are likely from the original piping.

"The longer we wait, the longer we risk people in this building and the more expensive it's going to be for taxpayers of Dade County," Bailey said.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."