Water Quality


Water systems, including drinking water, hot and cold water lines to outlets such as faucets to sinks and showers, and cooling towers are monitored for common contaminants by EHS and Facilities and Property Management (FPM). 

Drinking water is routinely tested for lead contamination in buildings. All hot/cold water lines from the source to the outlet (faucets, shower heads, etc.) are being tested for Legionella bacteria. 

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Legionella Bacteria

As defined by the CDC, Legionella, is a type of bacterium found naturally in freshwater but can become problematic when found in large quantities in human-made building water systems such as: showerheads and sink faucets, cooling towers for air cooling systems, decorative fountains / water fixtures, and large plumbing systems.  Legionella can cause a pneumonia-like illness and is spread by inhalation, meaning that the droplets of contaminated water must be small enough to breathe in for there to be a risk of contracting it and is most problematic when found in building heating and cooling systems.

Testing

PSU initiated testing for Legionella bacteria in campus buildings in the summer of 2020. A detectable, but low level, of Legionella was identified in four buildings: Cramer Hall, Lincoln Hall, Shattuck Hall, and Montgomery Residence Hall.  All campus cooling towers have also been tested as of June 2020 and no Legionella was detected. 

Below are the buildings where this testing has been conducted to date, and whether or not the presence of Legionella was detected.  Results will be updated as buildings are tested.

Building Abbreviation Building Name Legionella Detected 1st Round (Y/N) Legionella Detected 2nd Round** (Y/N)
AB Art Building and Annex N N/A
ASRC Academic and Student Recreation Center N N/A
BDWY Broadway Residence Hall N N/A
BLKS Blackstone Residence Hall N N/A
BLU Blumel Residence Hall N N/A
CH Cramer Hall Y* N
CIN Fifth Avenue Cinema N N/A
COR Corbett N N/A
CPS Campus Public Safety  N N/A
EH East Hall N N/A
FAB Fourth Avenue Building N N/A
FMH Fariborz Maseeh Hall N N/A
HAR Harder House N N/A
HGCDC Helen Gordon Child Development Center N N/A
HOFF Hoffman Hall N N/A
HSB Harrison Street Building N N/A
KMC Karl Miller Center N N/A
KNGA King Albert Residence Hall N N/A
LH Lincoln Hall Y* N
MONT Montgomery Residence Hall Y* N
ML Millar Library N N/A
NASCC Native American Student & Community Center N N/A
OND Ondine Hall N N/A
PKM Parkmill N N/A
PSC Peter Stott Center N N/A
RGH Research Green House N N/A
RMNC Richard and Maurine Neuberger Center N N/A
SB1 Science Building 1 N N/A
SEC Science and Education Center N N/A
SEH Stephen Epler Hall N N/A
SH Shattuck Hall Y* N
SMSU Smith Memorial Student Union N N/A
SRTC Science Research and Teaching Center N N/A
STHL Saint Helens Residence Hall N N/A
UCB University Center Building N N/A
UH University Honors N N/A
UP University Place Hotel N N/A
URBN Urban Center Building N N/A
USB University Services Building N N/A
WHP West Heating Plant N N/A

*While Legionella in potable water poses less risk than in heating and cooling systems, PSU is following best practices to eliminate the Legionella and retest the water systems to confirm the bacteria is no longer present
**Lines with positive results from first round of testing are decontaminated and retested to confirm the bacteria is no longer present in the system 

Flushing and Remediation

PSU incorporates industry best standards and City of Portland recommendations during the pandemic that includes flushing water fixtures in every building every three weeks. The four locations that tested positive have been resolved, including replacing fixtures and/or replacement and upgrades to water heating systems in Cramer and Lincoln Halls. Subsequent testing has shown no detectable levels of Legionella on campus. 

As the campus remains mostly vacant to employees and students over the Spring and Summer, FPM plans to continue flushing the water systems to prevent any conditions that would allow for the growth of Legionella. This practice will continue through at least the end of August 2021, or until there is regular occupancy to the building. 

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Legionella website