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Memorial University water quality update, Tuesday, Aug. 4

Aug. 4, 2015

As of Aug. 4, potable water tests have been completed on 38 of 55 buildings at Memorial’s main St. John’s campus, and results for consumption points inside these buildings are within the Canadian drinking water guidelines.

 Results received today have cleared the Education building and Gilbert and Guy Courts at Burton’s Pond.

The protocol for testing to date has been to take three samples at each of three locations per building; three at the water entry point to the building (most often a mechanical room); three at a faucet midway through the building; and three at a faucet at a far point in the building.

“We have been advised by the chief medical officer of health Dr. David Allison and other experts that the location where samples have been taken from industrial piping in certain mechanical rooms does not provide an appropriate measure of the safety of a building’s drinking water sources,” said Kent Decker, vice-president (administration and finance).

“Simply put, if you are testing the quality of drinking water, you need to test the water at the points where it will be consumed,” said Dr. Allison. “The test results received from points where water is consumed show that the drinking water inside the buildings is safe to drink.”

The test results at the water entry point to some buildings show levels of lead higher than the Canadian guidelines. Work is ongoing to continue to identify the source of the lead at the entry point, and the university has begun to test sediment caught by screens in the intake areas. The first building sediment test results were from the Childcare Centre. That initial test result of sediment caught by a screen at the intake shows the presence of lead in the sediment. Testing of drinking water from taps and faucets inside the Childcare Centre show no detectible lead, and Dr. Allison says there is no cause for concern.

Work is ongoing to determine the potential cause of these water entry point levels. Additional tests are being conducted at the first point where water is available for consumption within buildings. Consumption restrictions will not be lifted until test results for those points are within Canadian Drinking Water guidelines.

Memorial is also establishing a new testing protocol led by its Environmental Health and Safety team, advised by faculty experts as well as advisors from the province and Eastern Health.

 “Rest assured, we will have a protocol where every single building across Memorial’s campuses are tested on a systematic basis, that the results are reported to the University Health and Safety Committee and that the process and the results are made available online,” said Mr. Decker.

To view the test results received to date, www.mun.ca/health_safety/Water_sample_chart_-_Aug._4.pdf. For a complete status by building, visit www.mun.ca/vpc/water-location.php.