Concerns about lead and copper in the drinking water at a Rogue Community College Medford campus building have had students and faculty under advisement to not use the fountains since August.
But a report on the severity of the problem is due this week, and officials say the report's findings will dictate what steps need to be taken next. No matter what the report shows, however, RCC officials said they plan to keep checking until all fountains at all campuses in Jackson and Josephine counties are deemed safe to use again.
"Community and student safety is number one, so no matter what the report is, we will be inspecting all three campuses now," said college spokesman Grant Walker. "We’re going to check water levels at every building."
Tests on the drinking water at Building A, located on the Riverside campus in Medford, were prompted after an employee reported seeing cloudy water at the fountain last month. Walker said that fountain was closed immediately. Preliminary testing showed lead levels were at 27 parts per billion, almost double Environmental Protection Agency's limit for acceptable lead levels in potable water, or 15 ppb, Walker said.
The preliminary results also showed copper levels at the fountain also exceeded EPA guidelines, which has set a limit of 1.3 parts per million for the metal. Tests showed the Building A fountain had 1.65 ppm. A full report should be available Tuesday.
RCC officials closed the fountain and ordered tests immediately after being notified of the cloudy water. Students have since been advised to not use the fountains in the building.
Walker said RCC has hired an outside agency to conduct testing on the other fountains. The number of fountains on all campuses and costs associated with testing and repairs were not available.
"We don't know yet," Walker said. "Once we find the source of the problem, we will do whatever repairs are required to make it safe."
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