Water quality update: Water purified across Glassboro campus

Water quality update: Water purified across Glassboro campus

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A message from Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand:

I am pleased to announce that our campus-wide lead remediation plan is complete and that all drinking water meets state and federal standards for safety.

In July 2016, lead was discovered in the water of Linden Hall and several other buildings on the Glassboro campus, a finding that triggered a comprehensive study of drinking water and the development of an action plan to correct the situation. While distressing, the hazard of lead in water is one that many organizations face. This is particularly true for buildings constructed before 1986, the year lead was banned from use in plumbing materials.

I write you today to detail how we’ve handled the situation.

What we’ve achieved so far

Since the initial discovery, Rowan has spent approximately $1.2 million on a multi-faceted approach to ensure that our drinking water is safe. This past summer we completed the campus-wide improvement plan, including:

  • Installed in-line ANSI/NSF-approved filters for cold water sources on sinks in kitchens (residential and food service areas) and bathrooms, including 1,421 in residence halls alone. These high-end filters are rated for the removal of at least 99.9 percent of all metals and particulate matter and are designed to last three years or to treat up to 10,000 gallons of water each.
  • Installed 77 bottle-filling stations/fountains that distribute filtered water, with 19 more to be installed by the end of the fall semester. Of the total, 18 stations are in residence halls.
  • Installed new in-line filters in eight traditional water fountains in academic buildings.
  • Installed 20 new backflow preventers in service lines to replace older fixtures.
  • Retrofitted all six ice makers in the Athletics Department with additional filtration.
  • Distributed more than 300,000 bottles of water on campus while the remediation plan was being developed and filters were being installed.
  • Collected and analyzed roughly 4,100 water samples through a testing firm.

Drinking water standards and taking action

Upon discovering elevated lead levels, University officials held a series of public meetings, created a call center and water-quality hotline and posted regular updates for the campus community. We then sampled ALL potable water outlets in Glassboro campus buildings. Initially, some faucets in nine residence halls contained levels that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of 15 parts per billion (ppb), which the U.S. EPA considers the “Action Level.” Several rounds of followup testing indicated that the vast majority of lead levels across campus fell below the U.S. EPA Action Level, and, in many instances, no lead was detected. Read all about our water test results here. In spite of those encouraging findings, Rowan launched a vigorous campaign to remove the lead and keep the community informed.

A need to be cautious

The law does not require universities to monitor water for elevated lead levels, but we will continue to do so.

Students, faculty and staff should note that, while cold water sources have filters — including restroom and kitchen faucets in residence halls, food service areas and academic buildings — hot water sources do not. Some of the hot water outlets may be the source of water that tests above 15ppb. According to the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, however, it is safe to use this water for bathing and cleaning cooking utensils.

Moving forward, we will continue to monitor Rowan’s water quality and take appropriate measures to ensure that our water is always clean and safe. As always, please feel free to contact us through officeofthepresident@rowan.edu or 856-256-5200 if you have any questions or concerns.