Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

WATER QUALITY

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

(Update: March 6, 2017)

The following information addresses frequently asked questions about water quality on the Glassboro campus. The University first found lead in its water in July 2016 and has been working to improve the quality since then. We will keep the Rowan community updated on the situation as additional relevant information becomes available. For the latest update, visit rowan.edu/water.

Important Links

Frequently Asked Questions

About Lead at Rowan

1. What is the condition of water on Rowan University’s Glassboro campus?
2. Why did Rowan test its water supply and how?
3. How were water samples collected?
4. How did Rowan address the problem?
5. What do filters do?

About Lead

6. What is lead?
7. How did lead get into Rowan’s water supply?
8. Does Rowan regularly monitor its water supply?
9. How will this affect my health? What if I have worked here a long time?
10. Should I see a physician or otherwise be evaluated?
11. May I brush my teeth with tap water? Cook with it? Drink it?
12. May I wash my hands with this water? Shower with it?
13. May I wash dishes, etc. with this water?
14. Is food preparation on campus safe? Is it safe to eat in the Chamberlain Student Center, Holly Pointe and elsewhere?
15. Where can I find more information about how to reduce my exposure to lead in water?

About Lead at Rowan

1. What is the condition of water on Rowan University’s Glassboro campus?

Out of 43 residential, academic and administration buildings tested on campus from November 2016 through January 2017, nine had levels of lead above the United States Environmental Protection Agency Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). They are: Chestnut, Magnolia, Willow, Mimosa, Evergreen, Mullica and Triad halls; Edgewood Park Apartments; and the Townhouse Complex. Although these residential buildings tested high, filters that according to manufacturers capture up to 99 percent of all lead will have been installed in all of them as of March 18.

2. Why did Rowan test its water supply and how?

In July 2016, Rowan found lead in the water of one of its older buildings, Linden Hall. It then tested nearby buildings as a way to determine if the issue existed elsewhere. Sample tests indicated that it did, and the University notified the Rowan community about the issue at the end of August.

Upon learning of the problem, and after consulting with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and water-quality experts, it was determined that the University would need to develop a comprehensive study that included testing all the water outlets that deliver potable water (water meant for consumption) and map and examine all the plumbing systems across campus. The goal was to determine which buildings were impacted and the source of the lead contamination, building by building. It is important to note that Glassboro’s water-quality tests of its wells do not indicate elevated levels of lead.

Since developing and executing the comprehensive plan would take months, the University took “grab” samples of water throughout campus in August and September 2016, testing at least one faucet/water outlet in each building. Although they do not meet standard protocols for water testing, grab samples simulate the habits of people getting a drink from a fountain or faucet (not running the water before drinking it) and provide some immediate insight into water status in particular locations. Our grab samples provided a preliminary indication of the water quality across campus.

The University was able to undertake comprehensive water testing from November 2016 through January 2017. The University worked with a certified water-quality testing firm to collect the samples, which were evaluated at independent labs according to federal protocols.

3. How were water samples collected?

The water systems in all building were flushed and then left unused overnight, letting the fresh water stay in the pipes for that period of time. Samples were taken in the morning. A second flush sample was taken after the water was allowed to run at least 30 seconds. Samples were collected in 250ml containers with a nitric acid preservative.

4. How did Rowan address the problem?

Last fall, the University provided filtered water stations in all academic and administration buildings, installed water-bottle filling stations with filtered water, retrofitted many existing water fountains with filters throughout campus and provided residential students with bottled water.

As of March 2017, as the University works to develop additional long-term solutions to the lead situation—including installing whole-building and/or inline filters where appropriate, replacing back-flow preventers and/or replacing outdated water mains that feed the buildings—Rowan also will:

  • Install faucet-mounted filters in every residence hall and apartment complex except for the newest buildings, Holly Pointe Commons, Whitney Hall and the Rowan Boulevard Apartments. 
  • Install 31 more filtered water-bottle filling/drinking stations across campus, adding to the 49 stations and 32 in-line filters installed in the fall.
  • Continue to provide bottled water to residential students who want that until filters are installed throughout the residential units. We have distributed more than 377,000 bottles of water since September.
  • Begin an education campaign about the benefits of always letting cold water run for a nominal amount of time (flushing) before consuming it, an EPA recommendation.

5. What do filters do?

According to manufacturers, NSF-certified filters can effectively remove up to 99 percent of all lead from water.

About Lead

6. What is lead?

A naturally occurring element, lead can be found throughout the environment, according to the EPA. Lead can create health concerns, especially in some populations, such as children and pregnant women/fetuses. You can learn about lead at this site:

7. How did lead get into Rowan’s water supply?

Though we do not have a definitive answer as of yet, the Borough of Glassboro reports its water system is currently in compliance with federal and state regulations pertaining to lead. This suggests the lead may be from pipes in the buildings, as older pipes, faucet fixtures and the solder used to connect pipe joints can be sources of lead. The use of lead in plumbing materials was not prohibited until 1986.

8. Does Rowan regularly monitor its water supply?

Rowan annually tests water in the Early Childhood Demonstration Center (child care center) in accordance with relevant federal and state regulations and has not found elevated levels at any time. New Jersey and the federal government do not require regular testing, however, the University is developing its own protocols.

9. How will this affect my health? What if I have worked here a long time?

To learn more about how lead can impact health, visit:

10. Should I see a physician or otherwise be evaluated?

Lead-contaminated water is primarily an issue for children and pregnant women/fetuses, according to the government. Please consult your physician if you have concerns, but in the meantime read information from the EPA and from the New Jersey Department of Health at:

11. May I brush my teeth with tap water? Cook with it? Drink it?

The EPA encourages people dealing with lead-contaminated water not to brush their teeth with, cook with or drink unfiltered water.

12. May I wash my hands with this water? Shower with it?

In general, according to the EPA, it is safe for most people to wash and shower in water that contains lead.

13. May I wash dishes, etc. with this water?

According to the EPA, unfiltered soapy water can be used to wash dishes, bottles and toys. Dry dishes and cooking utensils before use. The EPA indicates that lead in water will not be absorbed by porcelain, metal or glass. You can wash clothes in plain tap water as well.

14. Is food preparation on campus safe? Is it safe to eat in the Chamberlain Student Center, Holly Pointe and elsewhere?

Our cafeterias have filters in place, except for Holly Pointe Commons’ brand-new dining facility, which was constructed well after 1986 legislation that made it illegal to use lead-based solder on pipes.

15. Where can I find more information about how to reduce my exposure to lead in water?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers safety tips.