NIU staffer on paid leave after not conducting water quality tests for 2 years


Will Wilson, senior pre-physical therapy major, refills his water bottle from a water fountain in February 2013.

By Kelly Bauer

NIU has put a staff member on paid leave while it investigates why two water quality tests were not conducted over a two-year period, violating Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The university is supplied water from DeKalb, which uses five area plants for water treatment and filtration. But, because NIU also treats and filters its water, it is required to perform testing and monitoring on its supply. It failed to conduct tests or monitor for trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2013.

“These are the only two that were not completed in a timely fashion,” said Kenneth Pugh, acting director of the Physical Plant.

NIU spokesman Paul Palian said the Environmental Protection Agency has said there is not an immediate health risk, and NIU has hired an employee, Joseph Hoiness, to oversee testing. Hoiness has a “strong technical background and track record for adherence to public safety guidelines,” according to an announcement NIU sent out about the lack of testing.

“The [Environmental Protection Agency] reports that there was not an immediate health risk since we draw our water from the city of DeKalb water supply and they haven’t had any issue with these chemicals; however, it is a compliance issue … ,” Palian said.

The agency recommended NIU release a notice about the water quality tests, which NIU did Friday, Palian said. NIU also took samples for the two quality tests on July 8, and Palian said there have not been any quality problems.