After detectable levels of lead were found in water from several drinking fountains in UNC campus facilities last month, Orange Water and Sewer Authority is continuing contaminant testing in the community and supporting UNC in finding solutions, according to a September press release.
Since the discovery of contaminants in some water fountains on campus, Blake Hodge, the communications specialist at OWASA, has been updating the community with information on the OWASA website and social media, as well as talking directly with customers.
“We certainly understand their concern when we take our responsibility, providing safe, healthy drinking water to customers, very seriously,” Hodge said.
Hodge stated in a Sept. 21 press release that the presence of lead in water in UNC's facilities does not mean the substance is present in drinking water in all parts of the community.
OWASA serves Chapel Hill, Carrboro and portions of southern Orange County, including all of UNC's campus. In the press release, Hodge said OWASA will continue to support UNC in its efforts to address the issue and investigate locations where lead was detected.
While OWASA's water system is not known to contain any lead pipes, contaminants can still enter the water as a result of corrosion of plumbing materials, according to OWASA's website.
The Safe Drinking Water Act’s Lead and Copper Rule was revised in December 2021 to further protect communities from contaminants.
The rule, enacted and enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, states the maximum concentration of lead in a sample of drinking water should not exceed 15 parts per billion.
“Water quality is something we should never take for granted as a rule,” Lisa Chisholm, Orange County resident and longtime OWASA customer, said. “I think no matter where you live, it's really important to trust in whatever municipal system you rely on for water.”