Campus, News

CSULB drinking fountains turned off after water was found to be unsafe: Updated

Update (Nov. 8 1:40 p.m.):

It was confirmed Wednesday that the drinking fountains in the McIntosh Humanities building at Cal State Long Beach tested positive for lead.

In a Facebook comment posted to the Daily 49er’s page, chemistry and biochemistry lecturer Elaine Bernal said her CHEM 100 students tested the drinking fountains in 10 sites, which all tested negative except for the ones in the McIntosh building.

An email blast was sent out Wednesday to all employees and students from Mary Stephens, vice president of administration and finance, to notify campus members that all non-filtered drinking fountains on campus will be tested.

“The [Cal State University Employees Union] is very concerned for the health and safety of our represented staff as well as the entire campus community,” said Jennifer Moran, union chapter 315 president in an email statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation to determine if further action is required on our part to ensure an appropriate level of safety is achieved.

The Daily 49er has reached out to Bernal for comment and is waiting for a response. It is unclear at this time which and how many fountains have been affected.

This story will continue to be updated

Drinking fountains at Cal State Long Beach were shut off and bound with blue tape after officials deemed water unsafe to drink.

“We’re using an abundance of caution and all of the drinking fountains will be clicked off,” said Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president of public affairs.

According to Stephens, the water coming from some of the fountains do not meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinkable water.

“When concerns surfaced about the safety of the drinking fountains in the McIntosh Humanities Building, I asked that the water fountains immediately be tested,” Stephens said in an email blast to College of Liberal Arts faculty.

In response to Stephens’ email, Alfredo Carlos, a professor for the political science department, confirmed that the initial testing was done by chemistry students.

I’d like to thank Elaine Bernal and her Chem 100 students for doing the initial tests of the water fountains that helped us uncover this serious issue,” Carlos said. “I am glad the university is taking this serious and moving on this quickly across campus. Bernal is a lecturer in the department of chemistry and biochemistry.

While the discovery of non-potable drinking fountains prompted concern from campus officials, not all had been shut off Monday. Some remained in normal working fashion in faculty buildings with signs posted to advise against drinking the water.

“Well, that’s concerning,” said Kristi Hagans, professor of advanced studies in education and counseling. “I think that it’s good they’re testing the water. I use the [fountains] that have the [bottle refill]. So, now I might not.”

According to the EPA’s website, water that is considered unsafe typically has higher levels of certain contaminants than are considered to cause adverse effects on a person’s health.

“We have launched a campus-wide drinking water testing program and fountains will only be reopened when this standard is met,” Stephen said.

It’s safe to say that students may have to leave their Hydro Flasks at home for the rest of the semester, as filtered hydration stations are not scheduled to be put in place until the end of the year.

“Officials have made it a priority to provide drinking water,” Carbaugh said. “We will be reaching out to the University Student Union, 49er Shops and others to see what we can do.”

Carbaugh said that the university is hoping to speed up the implementation of the filtered water stations that were set to be installed in the McIntosh building January 2018.

Notification to students from the school remained non-existent by the time of publication, aside from Stephen’s email blast.

“I haven’t heard anything about that,” said Nicholas Salazar, supervisor for the Nugget Grill & Pub on campus. “And I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten any emails either. We would shut down, we wouldn’t be able to run. We can’t run without water.”

The contaminants that reached unsanitary levels within the drinking fountains on campus are not known at this time.

This story will be updated.

Lilly Nguyen contributed to this story.


  1. Avatar

    Very poorly written article – factually void. The only fact about water quality stated is “tested positive for lead”. The EPA drinking water threshold (action level) for lead is 15 part per billion (ppb). So water can contain lead with less than 15 ppb and still be considered potable.

    Put some facts in the article instead of creating factless hysteria.

    • Greg Diaz

      Hello, and thank you for taking the time to comment on this article! I would like to make a note that as this news broke, we were about two hours into production — our news editor, Kat, exhausted all of the sources we could get ahold of at such an hour and it just so happened that these sources didn’t have the exact numbers you’re looking for, either. This is likely because they are still running tests on the campus water, and these tests will be conducted until Friday.

      If you’d like to read more, please refer to our follow up article on the subject! Thanks again for your feedback. 🙂

      -Miranda, Editor in Chief

  2. Avatar

    Elaine Bernal and her Chem 100 students’ data should be released to the public so her claims can be substantiated.

  3. Avatar

    The water is contaminated with high quantities of lead over the EPA’s standard regulation. This is an important detail that is missing from this article.

  4. Avatar

    What are the contaminants? Incomplete article.

  5. Avatar
    Alfredo Carlos

    Im in Political Science and Chicano and Latino Studies and the initial test was in MHB 2nd floor in the Chicano and Latino studies department. The hydration stations that are for water bottles are actually filtered and only the old water fountains are problematic as far as I understand.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Daily 49er newsletter