The bathroom and water fountain located near the entrance of the Gerstenzang Science Library building had brown water on Oct. 4 around 11 a.m., according to photos obtained by The Brandeis Hoot. The university’s Facilities Administration is not sure what caused the water to be brown, according to Lori Kabel, Facilities Administration Director, in an email interview with The Hoot.
“The #1 priority for both Facilities and Environmental Health and Safety is the safety of our staff and students. Although we do not foresee this to be a problem, we will monitor the situation and take any actions we need if it persists,” wrote Kabel in an email to The Hoot.
Kabel wrote to The Hoot that the Environmental Health and Safety team went to investigate the issue upon hearing of the brown water; however, during the inspection they did not notice any brown water. Despite not seeing any brown water, the university’s plumbers do flush the systems if any issues are reported or if there is work being finished.
“Flushing is the process of cleaning the water pipes by sending a rapid flow of water through them,” wrote Kabel. Water is run through the pipes for about 15 minutes, which allows the water to move systematically through the distribution system. As it moves through the system it can clean the lines and inner walls of the pipes that may have natural buildup of sediments and debris, according to Kabel.
Brown water can be caused by multiple things, wrote Kabel, including a break in the waterline causing sediment to get in, a backup of water due to drain overflow or corrosion in the iron pipes. In all instances when the water becomes brown the solution is flushing the lines, according to Kabel.
If this problem persists in the Gerstenzang Science Library, Kabel wrote that Facilities will once again flush the lines. In addition, a follow up will be done by the Environmental Health and Safety team where they will run precautionary tests to see if there are any contaminant levels which could be the cause. If the tests come back with contaminant levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) actionable levels, facilities will close the fountains until the problem is completely resolved, according to Kabel.
No signs were posted on the water fountain on Oct. 4 to prevent community members from using it and the women’s restroom also remained in use with no facility restrictions.