UConn responds to contaminated water at Cedar Ridge with help for students

The Cedar Ridge Apartments have come under fire for contaminated water. (Mustafe Mussa/The Daily Campus)

Off-Campus Student Services have been closely monitoring the contaminated water situation in Cedar Ridge Apartments with hopes of helping students gain access to clean water.

As of Wednesday, students in Cedar Ridge were still without clean water, according to seventh-semester journalism and communications major Salma Yousif who created the Facebook post that originally sparked interest in the plight of students at Cedar Ridge.

“It’s still super yellow, banana yellow, it’s really bad,” Yousif said.

The results from the tests run on the water show that the samples taken from Cedar Ridge Apartments exceed the Secondary Contamination Limit in both color and turbidity, according to the Microbac Laboratory Inc. Analytical Data Report given to Yousif and her roommate.

Yousif said she learned about Cedar Ridge at a UConn off-campus housing fair and visited the model unit before moving in. The reality that she and many other students are living with now is quite a different picture.

“It feels like I’ve been deceived,” Yousif said. “I came to Cedar Ridge because it looked comfortable, affordable, and it looked safe, it looked like somewhere I could live, and now I’m just trying to do the most to get out.”

The university was notified of the problem on Aug. 30, a few weeks after students moved into Cedar Ridge, and since then the office of Off-Campus Student Services has been working to get the issue resolved.

“Off-Campus Student Services has been in contact with the operators of that property and is closely monitoring the situation, including receiving updates from the Eastern Highlands Health District,” university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.  

After the story was covered by NBC Connecticut last week, the residents were given two $10 Subway gift cards, Yousif said.

“The property manager came over and gave us Subway gift cards for $20; thank you for one meal, what am I supposed to do for the rest of the week?” Yousif said.

In response to this concern, the university provided Yousif and her roommate with an on-campus meal plan.

Director of Off-Campus Student Services, John Armstrong, has been working closely with students and Cedar Ridge management to help ensure that the situation is resolved.

“Ultimately, it our hope that the property management company recognizes when a tenant’s basic needs are not being met and work with them to resolve the issue in an expedient manner,” Armstrong said.     

Armstrong said that he and another member of the OCSS team have been communicating with students in Cedar Ridge as well as with property management.

“We have been maintaining ongoing communication with affected students who have sought advocacy with our office regarding the water concerns and communicate daily with the property management company to get updates and work toward a resolution,” Armstrong said.

In regard to UConn’s affiliation with Cedar Ridge, Armstrong said, “Off-Campus Student Services does work with a number of local properties to advertise their rentals to students, including Cedar Ridge.”

UConn has a screening process in place for all complexes that wish to advertise themselves to students.

“Our screening process consists of each property meeting the local town laws and ordinances pertaining to rental permits and fire marshal permits,” Armstrong said. “We have the ability to remove rentals from our website based on a number of criteria. One important criteria is how does the management company respond to the complaint and work toward a resolution in a timely fashion.”

The university intends to continue its association with Cedar Ridge despite the recent problems with the water in the apartments, Armstrong said.

“Based on our correspondence with Cedar Ridge, they are responding well to all of our inquiries about the water situation,” Armstrong said. “We are continuing to watch this situation closely to ensure a permanent solution is being sought.  At this time, we will continue to partner with Cedar Ridge.”


Anna Aldrich is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu.