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The Et Cetera

The Et Cetera

Fountains, refill stations tainted water

Water+from+a+break+room+sink+at+Eastfield+%28left%29+compared+with+water+from+a+fountain++%28right%29.
Sean Stroud
Water from a break room sink at Eastfield (left) compared with water from a fountain (right).

“Disgusting. Pitiful. Disappointing.”

Associate of science major Timothy Warren wretched at the sight of yellow water pouring from one of Eastfield’s water fountains. For a student who drinks water on campus daily, this was a wake-up call.

“I don’t think I can even drink from the vending machine,” he said.

Most students lower their face in the fountain and sip without a second thought. The bottle refill stations display usage counts as high in the tens of thousands. 

Since mid-September, however, a fountain next to Student Life has been dispensing yellow water.

The Et Cetera ran the water through a testing kit and measured high hardness and alkalinity, which is generally caused by high traces of dissolved minerals, according to United States Geological Survey. 

Regardless of water content, one look of the cloudy, yellow substance makes students such as associate of science major Maria Zapata consider emptying their bottle.

“That’s pretty disgusting – I could be drinking that,” she said. Zapata refills her bottle daily. On some days, the taste feels off but she initially never thought more about it. High alkalinity tends to affect the taste of water, according to the KnowYourH2O Water Research Center.

After seeing the discoloration for herself, she called the college to “get those pipes checked.”

Facilities manager Adam Qualkenbush confirmed this wasn’t the first time a fountain has produced dirty water, but said a fix is simple. 

“Oftentimes, it’s a faucet or something – we’ll just flush the line,” Qualkenbush said. “We’ll check it two or three days later to see if it’s not repeating.”

However, the water has gotten progressively darker over the past two weeks. Qualkenbush reassured that other fountains aren’t contaminated since they’re on separate systems, making it easier to pin down the problem’s cause.

“There’s so many reasons that can potentially happen,” Qualkenbush said.

The cause is currently unknown, but Qualkenbush said there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Although he later said facilities are responsible for anything maintenance-related in Dallas College, sometimes the cause isn’t from the college: he said the city of Dallas is currently changing out its water meters. 

The city of Dallas has not returned a request for comments. 

Facilities conducts daily walks around campus to check its systems. How this fountain slipped through the cracks, Qualkenbush doesn’t know, but he said it’s just another job for facilities.

“Anytime we hear about anything like this, we’re going to investigate,” Qualkenbush said.

At the moment, there is no system for students to report campus issues such as discolored drinking water.

  • Life and Arts Editor Sean Stroud contributed to this report.
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