Water Quality

Water Quality

Near the beginning of the COVID low building occupancy period, Lane developed a plan for reopening building water systems after a shutdown. This plan was drafted in May 2020, reviewed by consultants PBS Engineering and Environmental, and finalized in June 2020.

Plan for Reopening Building Water Systems After a Prolonged Shutdown

Lane began implementing this plan in July by flushing and testing water as described in the plan. Following are:

Test Results

Residual Chlorine Tests

Residual Chlorine Tests Summary/Remediation

Water utilities treat water with chlorine to inactivate potentially harmful microorganisms. According to the CDC, chlorine levels of up to 4 parts per million (ppm) are considered safe for drinking water. The residual chlorine level at the EWEB tank nearest Lane’s main campus is 0.4 ppm. Water that has been sitting stagnant in pipes for a long time will have essentially zero residual chlorine because the chlorine dissipates as it sits. This creates conditions for bacteria to grow and it is the reason for flushing water in low occupancy buildings. EWEB has advised Lane to flush water to achieve a minimum of 0.2 ppm residual chlorine. Lane has been flushing regularly since July, but increased flushing in October to ensure residual chlorine levels of 0.2 ppm.

Residual Chlorine Tests Results

Lead Tests

Lead Tests Summary/Remediation

All lead tests results were “not detected” or below EPA levels of concern.

Lead Tests Results

Legionella Bacteria

PBS Environmental has collected all legionella bacteria samples and assisted Lane in interpreting results and developing remediation solutions.

Interpretation of results: The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) considers less than 1000 bacteria/100 mL acceptably low, recommends remediation protocols above 1000 bacteria/100 mL and does not recommend prohibiting water use in buildings until the levels are above 10,000 bacteria/100 mL. These guidelines are from the AIHA document, Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems.

Summary of Lane’s results: Of the 61 samples collected, 3 of them were at the AIHA level where remediation is recommended. The locations of those 3 tests and the results were:

  • Center, 1st floor, Doug’s place: 1460 bacteria/100 mL
  • Building 5, Room 125: 1920 bacteria/100 mL
  • Building 30, Room 219: 1460 bacteria/100 mL

Remediation: Test results were received on Friday, August 14, 2020. Lane’s Facilities staff worked on Saturday, August 15, 2020 to flush all main campus water fixtures with hot and cold water per the recommendation of PBS Environmental. Also, per the recommendation of PBS, on August 17 and 18, Lane removed aerators from fixtures, soaked the aerators in a bleach solution, and scrubbed the faucet with a brush dipped in bleach solution. PBS Environmental collected follow up test samples on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

Interpretation of results: All of the test results were within the American Industrial Hygiene Association acceptably low range of 0 to 1000 bacteria/100 mL.

Summary of Lane’s results: PBS Environmental collected samples at the locations that legionella bacteria was found in the August 5 test. At each location, PBS collected a “first draw” (first bit of water coming out of the tap) and “flush” (water coming out of tap after flushing for several minutes) sample. This resulted in 70 tests collected in 35 locations. 5 of the 35 locations had “not detected” results in both the first draw and flush tests. 22 of the 35 locations had a lower result than that from the August 5 testing. 8 of the 35 locations had a higher result than that from the August 5 testing.

Remediation: Lane received the results on September 1, 2020. In order to reduce levels further, Lane turned up the temperature of the campus hot water loop up from 125 degrees F to 140 degrees F on the evening of Friday, September 18, 2020. Facilities staff flushed fixtures with the 140 degree water on Saturday, September 19. PBS Environmental collected samples at 28 of the 30 locations that did not have a “not detected” result on September 22. The two locations that did not have a “not detected” result and were not sampled on September 22 were:

  1. Building 18, Room 109. The result from the August 19 sampling was 4 bacteria/100 mL in the first draw sample and “not detected” in the flush sample.
  2. Building 18, Room 205. The result from the August 19 sampling was “not detected” in the first draw sample and 1 bacteria/100 mL in the flush sample.

Interpretation of results: Of the 28 samples collected, there were 5 samples in 3 buildings that had a result that was not “not detected.” 4 out of those 5 samples were within the American Industrial Hygiene Association acceptably low range of 0 to 1000 bacteria/100 mL. The sample in Building 30, Room 243 was above 1000 bacteria/100 mL indicating remediation needed.

Summary of Lane’s results: Of the 28 samples collected, there were 5 samples in 3 buildings that had a result that was not “not detected.” The “not detected” results were:

  1. Building 16, Room 164: 1 bacteria/100 mL
  2. Building 19, Room 143: 37 bacteria/100 mL
  3. Building 19, Room 266B: 1 bacteria/100 mL
  4. Building 30, Room 243: 1920 bacteria/100 mL
  5. Building 30, Room 219: 17 bacteria/100 mL

Remediation: Lane received the results on September 30, 2020. Building 30 is not on the main campus hot water loop and has its own hot water system. Lane’s Facilities Engineer investigated Building 30 hot water system. The water heater was set at the maximum setting and the actual tank temperature was approximately 135 degrees F. The hot water recirc pump was functioning, but a related isolation valve was closed that should have been open. As a result, water was not recirculating back through the heater, so temperature in the hot water supply piping was below 90 degrees F and recirculating water was around 80 degrees F. After making this discovery, Facilities opened the isolation valve and the water temperatures increased. The supply water temperature downstream of the mixing valve increased to 131 degrees F and the recirculated water is 122 degrees F.

On Sunday, October 4, 2020, Lane increased the main campus hot water loop temperature to 150 degrees F. The temperature reading from the Building 30 hot water heater was 145 degrees F. Lane Facilities staff flushed fixtures in Buildings 16, 19, and 30 for several hours. On Monday, October 5, PBS Environmental collected samples in the 5 locations listed above.

Lane’s Facilities staff met with the EWEB Water Quality Assurance Officer on October 7, 2020 to review Lane’s water plan and strategies. EWEB recommended shifting from Lane’s current water plan to the Oregon Health Authority Guidelines that were updated on October 7, 2020. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) does not recommend testing for legionella bacteria and instead recommends testing for coliform bacteria. In addition to recommending shifting to the OHA guidance, EWEB also provided some specific instructions on flushing protocols. EWEB recommended:

  1. Flush at hydrants near building. Continue flushing at hydrant until residual chlorine level is 0.2 ppm.
  2. Flush each fixture inside the building. Spot check residual chlorine levels inside building and flush each fixture for the amount of time that it takes the sample fixtures to get to 0.2 ppm chlorine.

Interpretation of results: All of the test results were within the American Industrial Hygiene Association acceptably low range of 0 to 1000 bacteria/100 mL.

Summary of Lane’s results: Both Building 30 samples tested as “not detected.”

  1. Building 16, Room 164: 1 bacteria/100 mL
  2. Building 19, Room 143: 2 bacteria/100 mL
  3. Building 19, Room 266B: not detected
  4. Building 30, Room 243: not detected
  5. Building 30, Room 219: not detected

Remediation: Lane received the results on October 14, 2020. On October 15, Lane flushed fixtures in Buildings 16 and 19 using the new flushing protocol recommended by EWEB that involves flushing at nearby hydrants in addition to inside the building and continuing to flush until residual chlorine levels reach 0.2 ppm. PBS Environmental collected samples at the fixtures that had a positive test result in the late afternoon of October 15.

Interpretation of results: Lane had not previously collected samples at the Child Care Center. This batch of samples represents the Child Care Center Buildings 24-27. All of the test results were within the American Industrial Hygiene Association acceptably low range of 0 to 1000 bacteria/100 mL.

Summary of Lane’s results:

  1. Building 24, Room 122: not detected
  2. Building 25, Room 207: 1 bacteria/100 mL
  3. Building 26, Room 300A: not detected
  4. Building 27, Room 418: not detected

Remediation: Lane is continuing to flush all buildings weekly and spot check for chlorine residual levels using the EWEB protocol.

Interpretation of results: All of the test results were within the American Industrial Hygiene Association acceptably low range of 0 to 1000 bacteria/100 mL.

Summary of Lane’s results:

  1. Building 16, Room 164: 18 bacteria/100 mL
  2. Building 19, Room 143: 2 bacteria/100 mL

Remediation: Lane is continuing to flush all buildings weekly and spot check for chlorine residual levels using the EWEB protocol.

Interpretation of results: All of the samples were at a non-detectable level.

Summary of Lane’s results:

  • Building 6, Room 130: not detected
  • Building 9, Room 108: not detected
  • Building 25, Room 207: not detected

Remediation: Lane is continuing to flush all buildings weekly and spot check for chlorine residual levels using the EWEB protocol.

Employee Communications

Next Steps

Lane will be meeting with representatives from faculty, classified staff, HR, and Facilities along with Lane’s water consultant (PBS Environmental), and the Oregon Health Authority. The purpose of the meeting is to map out a plan to shift from Lane’s current water plan to a new plan that is more in alignment with the Oregon Health Authority guidance that came out on October 7, 2020.