Storrs water problems must be addressed

Brown and yellow water at Cedar Ridge Apartments. Discolored water has been a reoccurring problem at UConn during the fall 2016 semester. (Courtesy/Salma Adil Yousif)

The University of Connecticut has been plagued with water-quality issues for much of the semester, with off-campus housing suffering, as well as Hilltop and Manchester Apartment residences. While infrastructure problems often require complicated and costly repairs, the university has a duty to uphold the quality of water on campus.

Poor water quality is potential hazardous to students, faculty and staff, and if ignored or written off as a lesser-concern will harm the UConn community and open up the university to tremendous liability. New reports of discolored water prove the university’s inability to address this problem thoroughly or honestly. It is not a matter of hyperbole to suggest these issues greatly impact the UConn community, and threaten the health of all those living or commuting to Storrs.

As previously argued in a Nov. 2 editorial, the university has a responsibility to be fully transparent in both the solution offered to this ongoing problem, as well as the full results of the tests carried out by the state lab.

An Oct. 7 report in the Daily Campus from Anna Aldrich quoted an advisory letting residents of the Hilltop Apartments know that water problems had been resolved, with a “samples…tested in a state-certified laboratory… [confirming] that the water is safe to drink.” 

Though the university has insisted that problems have been solved, or are related to water being turned off after a period of little use, such as summer break, there has not been a clear explanation or narrative offered. Students in Mansfield Apartments are once again reporting discolored water, which began flowing once again near the end of Thanksgiving break.

Students pay a great deal of money to attend the university and live in on-campus housing. However, this is not a matter of diminished value or inconvenience. Safe drinking water is a right of residents. Though water might only be discolored, students, faculty and staff have no way to ensure the water is safe to drink, bathe or cook with.

The UConn community should be able to devote all available time to university life—academics, social life, research, work etc. Having to live with great concern regarding something as fundamental as the safety of drinking water represents a monumental failure on behalf of the university. It is time Susan Herbst and other senior UConn officials grant the UConn community the transparency they deserve and fully explain the cause and the planned solution for this problem, or, who they plan on consulting to remedy these ongoing water issues.