Water Company Fails to Notify University Over Contaminated Water
By Alex Nunez – Staff Writer
Pennsylvania American Water, the main provider of water in Scranton, did not notify the university before construction took place on Mulberry Street last month, according to Mark Murphy, director of sustainability and energy management.
The university had at least three instances over the last month in which water was either cut off or turned brown because of various issues with the local water supply. The most recent outage was caused by a fountain spewing from a section of the grid. This geyser was said to have been taller than the streetlights around the leak. The leak took place in North Scranton, a good distance from the University. At least two other outages were caused by construction, both taking place on Mulberry Street.
The response by the University was delayed as usually in instances of construction a boiling warning is to be issued in case water is affected. Murphy says the University was not aware of any boiling warnings before construction began. Because there was no warning from the company, the university response was delayed. In all the outages, the University relied on reports from students about water outages before any action was taken.
Junior Jonny Wells explained how the lack of clean water affected his busy work and school schedule. Wells says, “I came home from a shift at work and really wanted to shower but I wasn’t able to, and it was really annoying.”
The facilities affected included sinks, toilets, and showers. Moreover, both on-campus and off-campus housing was affected by the outages. Murphy noted that it is still unclear whether filtered water bottle stations around campus were affected by the construction or pipe bursts.
Preparing and cooking food was not able to be done during many of the outages. Junior Samantha Kramer noted “I was about to boil some water for pasta, and all of a sudden I noticed the water was brown. I had to go spend money at the pizza place down the street instead.”
Murphy is not aware of any future construction plans in the future, however noted the water company has been aggressive in updating its water infrastructure.
Pennsylvania American Water was contacted with a request for comment, however at the time of this writing they had yet to respond.