Quality of water …

By Deanna Cabinian

NIU’s water quality is good for the shortterm, but a long-term solution to avoid contamination has not been found yet, said Bob Albanese, the associate vice president of Finance and Facilities.

Abnormal levels of copper were found in NIU’s water over the summer and earlier this semester. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site, which sets national drinking-water standards, 1.3 milligrams of copper per liter of water is considered to be an acceptable amount. Any amount more than that may cause health problems.

At the start of this semester, copper levels were observed at 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5 milligrams per liter.

Albanese said the university has found short-term “quick fixes” for the problem. He said the university is maintaining a constant flow of water to keep the copper levels down.

“We think we’ve got the problem under control,” he said.

Although the constant water flow is a quick solution, it’s very inefficient, Albanese said. Members of NIU’s Physical Plant have been testing the water periodically, and the copper pipes in the building’s drinking fountains tend to give off readings that are a little too high, he said.

“We have to figure out what we can do longterm,” he said.

Jerry Bever, the assistant director of public works for DeKalb’s Water Resources Division, said the city has just completed one month’s worth of data collection on NIU’s water, and the data is being analyzed to figure out what can be done in the future.

However, he said, they haven’t seen anything to be too concerned about.

Bever said the data were sent to an independent company to be reviewed, and the company will contact the city after analyzing the results. Bever said they’re trying to determine whether NIU or the city can improve things.

“The problem doesn’t continue, but the levels may come back when the university shuts down again,” Bever said.

The reason for high copper levels earlier in the year was because of water sitting in the pipes over the summer, he said.