Magnolia Crossing water quality is under independent inspection after California Baptist University learned of two incidents reported by residents of water with a blue hue coming from faucets in their rooms, according to an email obtained by The Banner that was sent to Magnolia Crossing residents on Oct. 28.
While experts have confirmed showering with the water remains safe, the email urged residents to avoid using the water in the building to drink, brush their teeth and cook.
“As a result of this report, CBU has engaged multiple agencies to determine the source of the issue,” the Office of Residence Life & Housing Services wrote in the email. “In addition to working in partnership with Riverside Public Utilities, we contracted with a third-party vendor to expedite water sample testing and the investigation of the water quality.”
Joshua Schmidt, junior mechanical engineering major and resident adviser at Magnolia Crossing, said they began to respond to the incident on Oct. 28 after they were informed that preliminary testing of the water — which is unverified and is now under further inspection by an outside party — indicated copper contamination.
Copper is important for health in trace amounts, but chronic exposure or ingestion of higher-than-normal doses in water can harm people, leading to symptoms including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, according to a report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It is important to note that copper poisoning only occurs after long-term exposure to high levels.
In drinking water, the acceptable level of copper is 1,300 parts copper per billion parts water or less, according to the report.
In response to the situation, the Magnolia Crossing residence life staff focused on communicating the concern to students and supplying water.
“The first night, our main goal was to inform residents, so we printed out about 100 or so notes and tacked one to each door,” Schmidt said. “CBU sent out an email. We also took the water we had and limited it to three bottles a night and started passing those out.”
The staff has set up a station in the lobby of Magnolia Crossing where residents can access bottled water until the school receives results from the inspection. While water was initially rationed, residents are now free to take as many bottles as needed.
“We have provided hundreds of cases of water bottles since the occurrence for our residents to have,” said Cameron Jaramillo, residence director of Magnolia Crossing Women. “We have them in the lobby and (they) are available to anyone free of charge while we figure this out.”
Natalya Brown, sophomore political science major and Magnolia Crossing resident, appreciates the steps the school is taking to ensure safety. However, she is finding the process difficult to adapt to.
“I think they’re doing what they need to do, getting the water tested and providing the students with water,” Brown said. “I just wish we were being provided with updates as to how long it’ll be and what’s the severity of the issue. Mostly, (I am) just concerned that students have been using unclean water for a long time and have possibly gotten sick from it.”
Jaramillo said that, as of now, the measures taken by the school are “in an abundance of caution” and that they are still waiting on results from the inspection. For now, Schmidt urges residents to follow the rules and stay safe.
“The best thing that students can do right now is be patient,” Schmidt said. “This is not something that can just be done by the school quickly and (kept) in house. Outside testing and verification has to get involved with something like this because it’s a health hazard, but just like anything, government moves slow. So be patient while we wait for (the results) back. It could be gone by the end of the week. We could be like this for a couple weeks. We just don’t know.”