Students deserve clean water

Shippee building taken March 16, 2016.  Shippee is one of the residence halls at UConn that has recently experienced discolored water. (Jason Jiang/ The Daily Campus) 

With even more instances of discolored water in residence halls and apartments on or near campus, it is clear that University of Connecticut students have no reason to trust their water supply.

This time, the locations of the troubled water were the Mansfield Apartments and Buckley and Shippee residence halls, where water was dirty in sinks, toilets and water fountains. Additionally, there have been reports of a lack of hot water for continuous days. Students who lived in Carriage last year can claim familiarity with this. But the systemic nature of these water issues is borne out by a prevalence of similar such problems in Hilltop Apartments and Cedar Ridge Apartments.

Students have heard excuses and evasions from university and housing officials. For example, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said that if students kept the water running, it would clear up.

At Cedar Ridge, conditions were particularly poor, with one student stating the water was “super yellow, banana yellow, it’s really bad,” according to Daily Campus reporting.

While UConn eventually responded appropriately by providing affected students with on-campus meal plans, Cedar Ridge staff decided the fitting solution was to give students $10 Subway gift cards.

It seems as though UConn is engaging in activities that will amend this issue, but now that it looks to be widespread, it is useful to revisit past UConn water dilemmas.

In 2013, UConn was shown to have severely misused its water supply in the preceding decade. After an environmental impact report, UConn asked for two million more gallons of water per day due to the Technology Park, which is still under construction.

In 2002, journalists warned UConn of a water deficiency. The university ultimately admitted defeat, asking for more water after UConn had repeatedly overestimated its water stores for years, according to the Hartford Courant. Beginning in 2002, UConn gave “dangerously distorted projections” exaggerating the school’s water reserves, “(based on unrealistic diversion permits for the two rivers that feed its wellfields).” The school also “understated its demand (by denying future growth)…nobody at UConn was in charge of environmental matters, and…UConn's growth could easily outpace the local water supply.”

Once the Fenton River dried out in 2005, killing nearly 10,000 fish, UConn stopped its practice of unrealistic projections. Still, this backstory does not bode well for students today, who are a part of a consistently growing public university that will only need more water in upcoming years.

UConn must better monitor its nearby water, be it for supply or quality, on-campus or off-campus. A top 20 public university should be able to guarantee adequate water for its students.