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The State of the Water

Updated: Sep 24, 2018

by Sierra Petro

File Photo / Fatema Kamal

Some students are still wary to drink Purchase’s water after trace amounts of lead were found in 2017. But facilities insists that all campus drinking water is safe for consumption.

“The water is safe to drink from all kitchen sinks and water fountains,” said Michael Kopas, Director of Facilities.

Gianni Torres, a freshman psychology major, said she was still skeptical about the quality of the drinking water.

“My seven suite-mates never get acne and have started breaking out since arriving at Purchase,” Torres said. “I told them it could be because of the water; I rarely drink it.”

Torres said that she would trust the water on campus more after learning about the new filtration system installed in some academic buildings, which flash a red light when the filter needs to be changed. Other drinking water sources that were found to have lead were fitted with filters as well, but bathroom sinks were not, according to Facilities.

“On those 12 percent of water sources with high levels of lead we installed lead-certified filters. Bathroom sinks we did not since lead is not absorbed through the skin, and the water is not dangerous to brush teeth with,” Kopas said. “We did label where levels came up high.”

Some students have expressed concern about the new filtered water fountains displaying a red light, some assuming that this means the filter is not doing its job. Kopas says the red light indicates that the filter needs to be changed.

“The lights do not indicate that the filter isn’t working but that the filter needs to be changed. The facilities department relies on the Purchase community to inform us if the light is orange (almost needs to be changed) or red (needs to be changed),” Kopas said.

A water fountain filter displaying a red light. Photo by Sierra Petro

To report a red light, students can file a work order and, according to Kopas, the filter should be changed within a day.

The most recent test of the Purchase water sources was done right before students moved in this semester, but the results have not yet been made public.

Kopas says that now that that water is safe for students, Purchase can work on finding more sustainable options. “An evaluation is done over whether or not a filter will be used; sometimes a source is fixed with some minor plumbing,” says Kopas.

“Purchase has begun working with an engineer to evaluate the entire water distribution system and find a more long-term solution for ensuring clean water to the college community," Kopas said.



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