A drinking fountain out of service at Cal State Long Beach while officials test the water for lead contamination. Photos by Jeanette Martinez.
A forum is scheduled this Friday at Cal State Long Beach in response to the recent discovery of lead in some drinking fountains on campus.
A panel of experts will address health concerns and discuss plans for replacing fountains among other issues during the forum, which will take place December 8 from 11:00AM to noon in the Hall of Science (HSCI) building in lecture hall 105.
The speakers include Long Beach Water Department’s head of water testing Cynthia Andrews-Tate, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis, toxicologist Paul Damian, CSULB Vice President of Administration and Finance Mary Stephens and CSULB Physical Planning and Facilities Management Interim Associate Vice President Tony Malagrino.
The event was announced via an email sent by Stephens to the campus community Monday evening.
In the email, Stephens revealed some results of tests conducted during the last month after lead was detected in the water at a few drinking fountains on campus in mid-October by chemistry students.
Of the 130 drinking fountains, hydration stations and faucets recently tested, only one delivered water containing lead, she said. That outlet is in the visiting team dugout of the softball field.
Based on these results, tested water fountains and hydration stations that were turned off earlier—except for the one in the dugout—will begin being turned on Tuesday, December 5. It will take a few days for all outlets to be returned to service.
As for the initial drinking fountains that first tested positive for lead, located in the McIntosh Humanities Building, Malagrino told the Post they have been replaced with filtered units.
Stephens also revealed the university’s plans for replacing water fountains and said that testing will be conducted in buildings constructed before 1990 with any fountain found not to contain lead returning to service.
“Such fountains will be tested annually until they can be replaced,” Stephens said. “The 1990 date is significant because building code changes in the late 1980s prohibited the use of lead in building piping after that date.”
Titan Environmental, the company contracted to conduct the testing, will continue to be part of the university’s process as it confirms which fountains in the pre-1990 buildings are affected by lead components, Malagrino told the Post.
Malagrino said the university’s water has always been tested by the city’s water department on a monthly basis in compliance with the EPA’s Clean Drinking Water Act. However, due to the recent lead discovery, officials will also test unfiltered fountains that have tested clean but will return to service in older buildings until they can be replaced with filtered units.
“That project was underway already and has been accelerated due to this experience,” Malagrino said.
There are a total of 155 unfiltered fountains in the university’s pre-1990 buildings.
“We started out with a hard line between pre- and post-1990 [buildings] and quickly discovered that we needed to add buildings that housed dining facilities (like our student union and housing dining halls) and buildings that included young children (like our Child Development Center and Family and Consumer Sciences building) in order for our campus to continue to operate safely in the short term,” Malagrino said. “So we added these buildings, which were pre-1990 to the testing and, thankfully, they all tested clean.”
While these buildings will continue to operate, they have been moved to the top of the replacement list and will receive filtered fountains over the upcoming winter break, he added. They will not need to be tested further.
The remaining fountains in pre-1990 buildings will be tested, and if they pass, will return to service. They will continue to be tested annually until they are replaced with filtered units. Some will be replaced very quickly, he added, as officials intend to install at least one filtered unit in each of the buildings by the end of winter break.
“This process has taken more time than any of us would have liked, but it was important to approach these issues carefully and thoroughly,” Stephens said.
Timeline for upcoming work:
December 5, 2017
- All fountains in buildings built after 1990 will be placed back in service after being tested and cleared.
- All outdoor drinking stations will be placed back in service after being tested and cleared. The softball field’s visiting team dugout fountain will remain off until replaced.
- All drinking fountains and kitchen faucets in the Child Development Center, Family and Consumer Sciences building, and drinking fountains in the Student Union and Research Foundation buildings have been cleared and will be placed back in service.
December 5 – 22, 2017
- Water testing on drinking fountains in buildings built before 1990 will be conducted utilizing EPA-approved test kits. All fountains passing this test will be returned to service, and will be tested annually until they can be replaced. Units that fail the test will remain out of service and replaced.
December 20, 2017 to January 28, 2018
- Drinking fountains in the Child Development Center, the Family Consumer Sciences building, and the softball field visiting team dugout will be replaced with filtered hydration stations.
- Filtered hydration stations will be installed on the first floor of buildings currently without hydration stations.
2018 – 2019
- Remaining drinking fountains within buildings will be replaced with filtered hydration stations.
For more information on the results of each water source tested click here.