Water quality safe, but not up to EPA standard

The Temple News conducted a test that showed high levels of chlorine in drinking water.

A water fountain on the ninth floor of Ritter Hall has residue coming from the spout and all over the basin. DIAMENTE ORTIZ FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

On the ninth floor of Ritter Annex, two water fountains have yellow-brown residue around the spout. The residue stains the base of the mouthpiece and the basin. When water first started coming out of the fountain, it was tainted a light bluish-green color for a few seconds before becoming clear.

Last month, the Inquirer reported that colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not legally required to test its water for contamination after Rowan University found elevated levels of lead in its water. After learning of the lead in Rowan’s water, Temple began retesting its water to make sure it was safe, the Inquirer reported.

“I’m from Albania, and you can drink the water from a waterfall, it’s very clean,” said Kristi Bezhani, a junior global studies major. “And here, it’s not like that. It tastes like sour, salty, rusty metal, like when you go to water fountains.”

The Temple News conducted a water test using a kit purchased from Inlet Innovations, a Florida company that sells one of the highest-rated water testing kits on Amazon.com. Using a sample from the water fountain in the lobby of Johnson and Hardwick residence halls. The kit had test strips that would test for lead, bacteria, pesticides, iron, copper, the acidity, the ability to neutralize acid, hardness, chlorine, nitrates and nitrites. The results came back negative for lead and pesticides and only trace amounts of bacteria were found. The nitrate, pH, copper and iron levels all fell below the maximum contaminant levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water. Chlorine levels appeared at 5 parts per million, one part above the EPA allowed level of 4 ppm. The hardness of the water came out to 200 ppm, which is four times the EPA allowed maximum of 50 ppm. The level of nitrite, at 5 ppm, exceeded the EPA’s guidelines to keep nitrite at less than 1 ppm.

The Inquirer reported that Temple is part of the city’s water system, which is supplied by the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.

According to the Philadelphia Water Department’s annual Drinking Water Quality Report, which collected data from 2015, Philadelphia’s water shows no violations or any unsafe contaminants.

Bill Jalbert, the director of facilities at Temple, said that if faucets are turned off for long periods of time, like on holiday breaks, the water that comes out sometimes looks brown because of high mineral buildup in the water.

Lok R. Pokhrel, an assistant professor of environmental health at Temple, has conducted research on water quality, but not specifically at Temple.

“Tap water has its own issues,” he said. “And bottled water has its own issues. Some say bottled water is not sustainable either. Some recent surveys have said that bottled water is more contaminated, like maybe, four times more contaminated than the toilet seat. … There are issues on both sides. Temple having old buildings may have several lead pipings.”

“It is also advised that you should wait five minutes to let your water run, so it can be clean,” Pokhrel said.

Diamante Ortiz can be reached at diamante.emilia.ortiz@temple.edu.

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