Students Refuse to Drink Filmy Water

Many students distrust and refuse to drink the water from the water fountain outside Sarah’s Coffeehouse because they do not like the way it looks or tastes and fear it will make them sick.

The water that trickles out of the Lenfest water fountain has a filmy, whitish appearance noticeable when filling up a water bottle to take to class or filling up a coffee pot to fuel late night study sessions.

Alexandre Howard ’14 said she does not drink from that particular water fountain and must bring water from home to get through long days of classes.

“I guess it’s better than the brown water in Riddle. I don’t drink it. I don’t trust the water here. I don’t want to get sick,” Howard said.

Aly Rice ’14 also said she avoids using the fountain and must fill up a bottle in her dorm with enough water to last her the entire day so she does not have to drink the white, fuzzy water from Lenfest.

“It’s dirty. I usually have a water bottle with me. The water is cloudy and gross. It tastes funny. I try to avoid it at all costs,” Rice said.

Rice also said she knows other students who avoid the Lenfest Commons water too.

“Everyone I know pretty much avoids it. We always look at the water and we are like, ‘what is this?’” Rice said.

While many students dislike the taste and fear the safety of the water in Lenfest Commons, Jack Kelly, Director of Facilities Management, said the water is safe to drink and use.

“The water in Lenfest is likely just stagnant. It’s not harmful. It could be sediment deposits. I would just let the water run for five to ten minutes. The filmy color could be just a concentration of fluoridation, or the pH could have dropped a little bit. It could be a combination of issues. If it was a hazard, the borough would let us know,” said Kelly.

Kelly did express some concern that students dislike the taste and appearance of the Lenfest water, however.

“I’ll look into it though, just as a precautionary measure,” said Kelly.

Kelly noted that the Chambersburg Borough supplies the water for all Wilson College buildings, and that the Borough ensures all water goes through a filtration process to remove any harmful bacteria, sediment, and microbial deposits.

The Borough comes to test the water for bacteria and the pH levels of the Wilson water on a monthly basis. The Borough tests different locations on campus each month, and most recently, tested the water in a faucet from the men’s bathroom in Lenfest Commons. The Borough will only issue Kelly a report if they detect a problem.

“The readings—bacteria and pH levels—came back perfect,” said Kelly.

Kelly also noted that Wilson has had very few total problems with the water quality or safety.

“The Borough has only had one bad water alert 10 years ago, when there was a water main break. We alerted students of the problem and resolved it within six hours,” said Kelly.

Deborah Austin, Associate Dean of Academic Advising and Chemistry Professor, declined to comment about the results of her tests on the Wilson College water.

“There have been no meaningful results from testing, so an interview would be premature,” said Austin.

Tim Dawe, General Manager of Dining Services, also said that water safety has never been a concern at Wilson College.

“There was an issue a year or two ago when the reservoir was thought to have some sort of contamination and the Borough of Chambersburg called an emergency for the water not to be used for a time period. It ended up not affecting campus in any case,” said Dawe.

Dawe noted that the dining hall filters the water it serves at campus meals.

“Any water used from the tap is generally boiled. We’ve never had much of an issue or concern,” said Dawe.

Kelly concluded that test results indicate that Wilson water is safe to drink and use.

“The borough water in Chambersburg is good. It’s maybe the best water in the area,” said Kelly.

To obtain more information about the Wilson College water, you may contact Jack Kelly at or contact the Chambersburg Borough Water Department at (717) 352-7450.

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