Copper detected in water at Hilltop Apartments


(File photo)

A student at the University of Connecticut posted that those living in the Stowe Building of Hilltop Apartments have copper-contaminated water coming out of their faucets in the UConn Reddit feed, causing concern to other students in the complex.

“Just found out that Stowe’s water has had unsafe levels of copper in it since the beginning of the semester,” the user, dadisdad, said.

A notice was posted on Sept. 29 advising students not to drink or use the water for cooking until the testing was complete, according to the post, which included a photo of the notice.

The post also said that Hilltop Apartment’s hall director distributed bottled water to residents to use until the issue can be resolved.

“They turned off our water today for a few hours to test it after reports of discoloration,” the Reddit user said.

“Testing showed small amounts of copper in the hot water, not the cold water, of one building, suspected to be due to an issue with the heating unit,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

The Reddit user encouraged others with discolored water to report it, and said, “my roommate and I felt sick for a few days during the first week, but we thought it was just a minor cold.”  

“The amount in the water was below the actionable threshold, but we are making decisions on the side of caution, as we know students have expressed questions and concerns,” Reitz said.

Residents in the Stowe building were given a notice yesterday detailing the situation and stating that the situation is not a public health emergency.

“As students of the university, you have a right to know when something affects your water supply,” the notice said.

The elevated copper concentrations were only found in the hot water samples and that the tests showed that the copper levels are below the Environmental Protection Agency’s Action Level for copper in tap water, according to the notice.

“Copper may work its way into the water by dissolving from copper pipes in a building’s plumbing,” the notice said.

The conditions that may have caused the copper to suddenly begin entering the water supply in a higher concentration is under review, according to the notice.

The notice advises students to let their faucets run for 30 to 60 seconds before using water for drinking or cooking when the pipes have not been used for over six hours.

“Hot water dissolves copper more quickly than cold water; as a result, for the time being, water to be used for drinking or cooking should not be drawn from the hot water faucet,” the notice said.

Last month, Hilltop apartments had a problem with discolored water that was also credited to a problem with the heaters that residents were told were being replaced, according to senior physics and human rights major Lily Skou, who lives in the Novello building of Hilltop Apartments.

At this point it is unclear if the two events are linked.

“The amount detected was below the minimum amount that requires action under health codes, but the university is providing bottled water to residents as it reviews and resolves the situation,” Reitz said.

Anna Aldrich is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at She tweets @ZarraAnna.

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