Your health and safety are important to us at the Lab and we are taking steps to help ensure that all aspects of our environment at our workplaces are safe. The Lab obtains water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which supplies water to much of the East Bay. As a public water supplier, EBMUD is required to test the water regularly. Recently, the Lab decided to go one step further and test the Lab’s water sources, such as kitchen sinks and water fountains, because many of these had gone unused during the past two years due to the pandemic. Standing water left in plumbing systems for long periods can deteriorate metal pipes, causing metals to leach into the water supply.
In partnership with the Facilities divisions, the Environment, Health & Safety Division instituted a drinking water testing program as part of the return to work site effort. We needed to plan our water source testing to closely align with people returning to our Lab sites to ensure that we were testing active drinking water sources. The Lab tested drinking fountains, break room/kitchen sinks, food preparation sinks, plumbed water bottle filling stations, ice machines, and refrigerator water sources. Not tested were the bathroom, laboratory, and custodial sinks, and showers, as they are not intended to be used as drinking water sources.
Testing is ongoing, so the numbers used in this article are as of May 23 and are subject to change as test results are returned. You can check the dashboard for updates.
Of 199 individual drinking water receptacles onsite, 142 showed no sign of contamination. However, 17 water sources did have test results that indicated either lead, copper, cadmium, barium, beryllium, or silver at or above action levels, plus one location indicated the presence of coliform. When a source tests at or above an action level, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the system owner, such as the Lab, is required to make changes that may include changing fixtures, flushing the waterline, and retesting the water. Replacement parts for these locations have been ordered and are scheduled to be completed as soon as possible, most likely by the end of the month.
These 17 water sources have been taken out of service by posting signs and taping off the source. The sources will remain out of service until corrective actions have been completed and additional testing shows an appropriate water quality has been reached.
Filters are being replaced on another 47 drinking water sources. These sources have also been placed out of service by posting signs and taping them off until the filter replacement and testing are complete and satisfactory test results are obtained. The test results from these drinking water sources will be sent to Facility Area Managers and Building Managers when they are available, which should be by the end of the week. The dashboard will also be updated as the test results come in.
If you have questions about the water testing program, contact Kevin Milani at 510-486-4942. If you have health concerns, contact Health Services at 510-486-6266. You can also read these Frequently Asked Questions that will be updated as testing progresses.