Rumors of lead pipes in AU buildings have been circulating around campus, but according to Director of Facilities Management William Suter, these rumors are false. Lead, however, does exist in some of the older building’s valves and solder, he said.
Small amounts of lead leach into all water sources due to small amounts of lead in plumbing fixtures, valves and older solder, according to Suter.
“Solder containing lead was banned over 20 years ago and has not been used on campus since the ban,” he said.
While minimal amounts of lead leak into the water of some of the older buildings, it is still drinkable.
“Our testing, along with testing performed by [the Water and Sewage Authority] our water provider, shows that our water meets [Environmental Protection Agency] and D.C. standards for quality,” Suter said in an e-mail.
AU’s campus was built over a hundred-year range, from 1897 until present day with the construction of the new School of International Service building. Hurst is one of the older buildings and deals with some water quality issues. However, it meets EPA and D.C. standards, according to Suter.
“The symptoms we know about in Hurst include water discoloration and substances that clog water filters in the building,” Suter said. “These symptoms can stem from deterioration of the line feeding the building or from other contamination sources. An investigation and likely replacement of this line is part of a broader water and sewer system master plan in the initial stages.”
Older water systems on and off campus are undergoing plans for renovations to ensure water reliability is more consistent on campus, Suter said.
“Most of our water reliability problems are related to WASA lines feeding the university rather than lines on campus,” Suter said. “WASA typically has water line issues in the winter and this winter has been no exception. WASA has line replacement projects underway.”
Some students use water filters because they are uncomfortable with the drinking water at AU.
“I think people are worried about the AU water quality because D.C. has a bad reputation for its water,” said Gina Maffucci, a freshman in the School of International Service.
Drinking water faucets in AU dorms are typically fitted with water filters as well.
The water is safe to drink, according to Suter.
“Our testing, along with testing performed by [DC]WASA, our water provider, shows that our water meets EPA and D.C. standards for quality,” Suter said.