Update on lead in water issue
June 6, 2018
NMU has engaged a consulting company, Mannik Smith Group, to help develop and execute a systematic trouble shooting approach to solving the water issues in the Thomas Fine Arts, LRC and PEIF. As part of those efforts, the staff has been working to verify “as-built” water systems in the buildings as the first step to narrowing down potential sources of lead.
Recent testing with an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer has determined that elevated readings are the result of connections in some water lines within the buildings. Mitigation steps taken by the university will include replacement of some plumbing lines and water filtration. Work will continue through the summer to fix the issues and it is expected each building will have potable water by the start of fall semester.
NMU officials wish to reiterate the following:
- Water testing has shown that the lead issue is isolated to the PEIF, LRC and TFA. All other buildings met the EPA standards;
- Some piping will be replaced and filtration added this summer to return potable water to the three buildings;
- The affected buildings are open for regular business and drinking water coolers will remain until water tests show the drinking water is below federal safety level guidelines;
- According to EPA standards, the water is safe for washing, flushing and showering; and
- No residence halls are affected.
Updates will continue to be posted at nmu.edu/watertest.
May 22, 2018
Related EPA information
May 20, 2018
Water sample results are back and PIEF, Thomas Fine Arts and Learning Resource Center Open Monday
Water samples from each water source in the three buildings were sent to an independent lab for analysis and results show that each building had individual water fixtures that test over the action level of 15 parts per billion.
With this situation, the EPA recommends making the water non-potable and continuing to investigate individual water outlets that tested over the threshold. According to set standards the water is safe for washing, flushing and showering.
Steps going forward include:
- All water will be labeled as non-potable in the three buildings
- Drinking fountains will be made inoperable until testing says it is prudent
- Drinking water will be supplied by the university
- Each fixture that measured high will be investigated individually
- Water sources will be put back online once testing shows acceptable levels
According to TriMedia Environmental, the testing indicates that the main water source to each the buildings is not the source of the lead contamination. In numerous locations a fixture tested high while a fixture a few feet away tested fine.
The process of isolating and replacing fixtures and plumbing is labor intensive. NMU will take needed steps to address the issue as quickly as possible.
All other buildings on campus successfully passed recent water tests.
What can cause high lead levels? EPA Link
- the chemistry of the water (acidity and alkalinity) and the types and amounts of minerals in the water
- the amount of lead it comes into contact with
- the temperature of the water
- the amount of wear in the pipes
- how long the water stays in pipes
- the presence of protective scales or coatings inside the plumbing materials.
Northern Michigan University closed the PEIF, Thomas Fine Arts and the Learning Resources Center for comprehensive water testing. Hundreds of samples were sent to an independent lab downstate yesterday (Thursday) and testing will be happening today. NMU officials are hopeful that results will be available Saturday. Information concerning the reopening of the buildings will be shared as soon as possible.
4 p.m., May 16, 2018
NMU Closes Three Buildings for Water Testing
Northern Michigan University is closing three campus buildings as a precautionary measure to facilitate additional water testing after inconsistent lead level readings from limited test areas in each facility. The PEIF, Thomas Fine Arts and the Learning Resources Center will remain closed until NMU receives expedited independent laboratory results—potentially over the weekend—and makes a determination of whether additional investigation and testing is required. Employees in the three impacted buildings should contact their supervisors about working arrangements for the remainder of this week.
NMU followed through on its pledge to test the water in more than 50 campus facilities to establish baseline measures. The move followed the two-day cautionary closure of the Jacobetti Complex in response to elevated lead readings. Later tests confirmed the Jacobetti levels are safe and fall below the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion.
Water Test Results Report Now Available
Water Test Results Show Low Lead Levels
Northern Michigan University received the results from one of the independent labs tests Thursday afternoon that revealed lead levels well below the legal limits. The comprehensive water testing included multiple samples from the hot, cold and culinary water systems in the Jacobetti Complex. The building will remain closed Friday, February 16, to allow the maintenance staff the opportunity to flush the water systems as an additional precaution. The building will be open Saturday for regular business.
Additionally, NMU officials have decided to test the water in all campus buildings to establish a water quality baseline for campus. Testing will commence this weekend.
Water test reports will be posted here as soon as possible.
NMU officials have consulted with the Marquette County Health Dept. concerning this situation.
NMU officials are reaching out to Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality.
Water Issues at the Jacobetti Complex
Northern Michigan University officials announced the closure of the Jacobetti Complex at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 14 after a water test revealed elevated lead levels. The single test was conducted after a recent water line repair.
Additional water samples were taken today by Tri-media Environmental and Engineering Services for more comprehensive testing at two independent laboratories on Thursday, February 15 and an action plan will be developed, if needed, once results are returned.
“Out of an abundance of caution we closed the building and canceled classes for the remainder of the week immediately after learning of the issue with the water. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our priority,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson. “We are taking the necessary precautions now and will make decisions once the additional water tests are completed.”
NMU officials are conferring with Marquette City Public Works Department and will contact the Marquette County Health Department Thursday.
At this time, all classes and events scheduled for the Jacobetti Complex are canceled through Friday evening.