Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

WATER QUALITY

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

(Update: Sept. 19, 2017)

The following information addresses frequently asked questions about water quality on the Glassboro campus. The University initially detected lead in its water in July 2016 and began an immediate action plan to remediate it.

Throughout the process, we have shared progress reports, updates and lab results with the community in an effort to be completely transparent as we address the issue. 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, ANSI/NSF-approved filters were installed for cold water sources in kitchens and sinks that are rated to remove at least 99.9% of metals and particulate matter. These filters are designed to last three years or to treat 10,000 gallons of water each. Unfiltered hot water sources are fine for cleaning and bathing but not for cooking or drinking. Use only cold water sources for cooking and drinking.

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

In July 2016, Rowan tested the water in one of its older buildings, Linden Hall, because of complaints the water was discolored. Results indicated that elevated levels of iron caused the discoloration, but lead was also detected. The university then then tested nearby buildings 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, the University developed a comprehensive study that included testing all water outlets that deliver potable water and to 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 the Borough of Glassboro’s water-quality tests of its wells do not indicate elevated levels of lead.

Because 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 followed this with comprehensive water testing from November 2016 through August 2017. Samples were collected with a certified water-quality testing firm and evaluated at independent labs according to federal protocols.

3. How were water samples collected?

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

4. How did Rowan address the problem?

During the Fall 2016 semester the University began installing filtered water stations in all academic and administration buildings as well as filtered water-bottle filling stations and retrofitted existing water fountains with filters. During this process it distributed roughly 400,000 bottles of water.

In August 2017 the University concluded its lead water remediation plan which has included the installation of whole-building and/or inline filters where appropriate, the replacement of back-flow preventers and/or replacing outdated water mains that feed the buildings.

Rowan also:

  • Initially installed 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.
  • Installed in-line ANSI/NSF-approved filters for cold water sources in kitchens and sinks, including 1,421 in residence halls alone. These high-end filters are rated for the removal of at least 99.9% of all metals and particulate matter and are designed to last three years or to treat 10,000 gallons of water each.
  • Installed 77 filtered bottle filling stations and will have installed a total of 96 by the end of the fall 2017 semester.
  • Began an education campaign about the benefits of always letting cold water run for at least 30 seconds to flush pipes before consuming water, as recommended by the EPA. 

5. What do filters do?

According to their manufacturers, ANSI/NSF-approved filters effectively remove up to 99.9 percent of lead and other particulates from water.

About Lead

6. What is lead?

A naturally occurring element, lead is found throughout the environment. Lead in the environment can pose health problems, especially in certain populations such as children, pregnant women and fetuses. Learn about the health effects of lead here:

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

Lead can leach into water from various sources, including pipes in older buildings and pipes that feed buildings. Though we do not have a definitive answer as of yet, the Borough of Glassboro reports that its water system is in compliance with federal and state regulations pertaining to lead. This suggests the source of lead in campus water 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 prohibited in 1986.

8. Does Rowan regularly monitor its water supply?

Rowan annually tests water in the Early Childhood Demonstration Center (the child care center in Education Hall) in accordance with federal and state regulations and has not found elevated levels there. The State of New Jersey and the federal government do not require regular testing, however, but the University is developing its own protocols to do so.

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?

According to the federal government, lead-contaminated water is primarily an issue for children and pregnant women/fetuses, but please consult your physician if you have concerns. In the meantime, the following information from the EPA and from the New Jersey Department of Health may be useful:

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

The EPA encourages people dealing with lead-contaminated water to not brush their teeth with, cook with or drink unfiltered water. Filtered water is fine to drink, brush one’s teeth with and cook with. Unfiltered water is safe to bathe and clean with but should not be consumed, nor should any water from a hot water tap.

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

Yes. 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 that contains lead may 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?

Yes, perfectly safe. Our cafeterias and food prep area all have filters in place.

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 at the following site: