Over the past several months, the Administrative and Student Life Services Division has authorized a series of tests on the campus water quality to identify lead levels in our water. In February and March, we conducted a series of tests that identified a couple of water sources that exceeded the EPA recommended level of 20 parts per billion. Those water sources are not used as drinking water. The test results from the third round of tests have recently been completed.
It is important to note that our private water consultant is using a strategy to select the sites tested. The consultant was hired in an effort to explain pipe leaks we have in newer buildings. The pipe leaks may be caused by microbes in the water that leach metal from our pipes. The tests revealed some high levels and we are attempting to isolate areas within buildings to identify the root causes.
One building that had test results in the most recent round higher than 20 ppb was the Merle Price Commons. Previously, our kitchen taps tested less than 5 ppb on multiple occasions, while isolated areas of the building tested at 22 ppb and 37 ppb. To identify the cause, water coming into the building was tested, but that building entry point was later identified to be a dead-end pipe. The stagnant water from that pipe tested at 290 ppb. We have identified a better entry point source and will retest the water coming into the Commons. However, we have taken some precautionary measures in the building and are identifying water filtration systems for the facility. However, it is critical to understand that on multiple occasions, the MPC kitchen taps have all tested below 5 parts per billion. We also have filtered drinking stations in the building that are safe to use.
In this latest round of tests, the drinking foundation on Heritage fourth floor, which had previously tested at 7 ppb, tested at 490 ppb. We previously removed an old drinking fountain in the Child and Family Center and replaced it with a bottle refill station, which has a filter that removes lead. During the installation, the plumbing was turned off, and we have been told that the test likely was contaminated by an air bubble in the system (refer to the field notes). However, as a precaution we have taken the water fountain offline and are replacing it with a bottle refill station.
Our testing goal is to identify the source of the problem. We have had a number of individual requests to test specific sites in buildings. Our consultant is guiding what sites are tested.
All of these efforts are focused on ensuring our drinking water is safe for our students, employees and the public.