The issue of limited access to clean water off campus needs attention now

Discolored water at Cedar Ridge Townhouses. (Salma Adil Yousif/Facebook)

Sometimes you do not realize how often you use something until you no longer have open access to it. Some students living in off-campus housing are realizing just how true that statement is now, with limited access to clean water.

Residents of Cedar Ridge Townhomes in Willington, including many students from the University of Connecticut, have had yellow water that sometimes carries foul odor pouring from their taps since before move-in day in late August. Cups of this water sometimes have black sediment settling at the bottom.  Residents are not able to drink this water, and they cannot cook or bathe with it either. This means buying a lot of bottled water and showering elsewhere.

The Lutz Management Company, the company running Cedar Ridge, is employing a water specialist and testing the water weekly. The complex sent an email to its residents notifying them that they currently draining out all of their hot water storage tanks in an attempt to drain the sediment. That email stated the water was safe to drink. Yet Robert Miller, Eastern Highlands Health District’s director of health, says that they cannot be certain of the current problem. He also warned that there are many possible reasons for discolored water and said, “Prudent avoidance is probably the way to go until you feel comfortable about the water you're drinking.”

This is not the only incident of poor water quality in housing around or in the UConn area; there have been problems at Mansfield and Hilltop apartments. Last Tuesday, students at Hilltop noticed the water from their faucets was brown, with enough color to stain towels. A few weeks ago, Mansfield Apartments’ residents noticed the water from their taps was brown. A few students resorted to bottled water because this concerned them. It only lasted a few days, but the university did not release any official communications nor did they tell the residents how the problem was resolved.

This problem is not specific to this year. A student from Mansfield Apartments reported a similar problem last year.

The University of Connecticut has been involved with all of these problems. They receive updates from the Eastern Highlands Health District and work with students to help them fulfill their needs, including providing students Salma Yousif and her roommate with meal plans because they cannot cook with the Cedar Ridge water. Yet, the university could be better with communication about these water problems on campus and off, because it would provide more security for the students, knowing the university is doing everything possible to bring back the daily staple of clean water.