Hannah Lundquist —
Right before Spring Break, students received an email from the Communications department here at Stout. The email highlighted the recent results of a water quality test that was done in the last few weeks. All of the buildings on campus were randomly sampled in order to ensure that the levels of lead in the water were at a safe level. Lead is measured in parts per billion, and the Environmental Protection Agency advises that anything above fifteen parts per billion is unsafe.
In total there were forty-seven tests taken for all the buildings. Of the forty-seven tests, one drinking fountain in Heritage Hall on the first floor tested with high levels at twenty parts per billion, above the Environmental Protection Agency recommendation of fifteen parts per billion. The drinking fountain was immediately taken out and has since been replaced with a water bottle fill station. This system will further filter the water, so there will no longer be an issue with the lead in that area.
Jasmine Thompson, a freshman in the Human Development and Family Studies program, spends a lot her time in Heritage Hall. When she received the email about the drinking fountain, her immediate thought was whether or not it was the one that she was using to fill up her water bottle for class.
This was a common reaction for many students who have classes in Heritage Hall, especially those who are on the first floor. The email does not specify where exactly the affected drinking fountain was, and neither does the information on the website.
The tests revealed two other areas that came up with lead levels above the recommendation, but they were mop sinks or washbasins in the Commons.
Jasmine says, “ I think that they should be fixing all the pipes so that this will not be an issue in the future. Instead of fixing the floors in the commons they should have spent the money on the pipes, which seem to be a more pressing issue”.
As a result of these recent high lead levels, the University is planning on doing more routine tests and will be posting the results to the Water Quality and Testing page on the Stout website.
High lead levels have been making their way through the news for weeks. In the last week CNN reported on an elementary school in Newark, New Jersey, where the students underwent blood tests to determine if they had high levels in their bodies. The schools that were affected in New Jersey had lead levels that reached as high as five hundred fifty-eight parts per billion. This is an extreme case of high lead levels affecting people, but it also shows that the levels at Stout were nowhere near as bad as some areas have it.
For continued updates and information on the issue make sure to read the Water Quality results on the Stout homepage. The tests will be randomly conducted throughout the year and students will be updated.