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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Water distribution - campus water system improvements

Project phase: Planning/Design

Project background

  • MSU operates its own water system and draws water from wells in the agriculture district to provide approximately one billion gallons annually and service most buildings on the East Lansing Campus.
  • The water meets all regulatory requirements. Routine water sampling for biological constituents such as coliform, inorganic materials such as copper and lead,radionuclides such as radium, and other substances consistently fall well below any recommended and regulatory thresholds for safety. A complete analysis is included in the MSU Water Quality Report (2015) at:
  • Concerns remain however, that the overall water quality is not pleasing to users relative to color and taste. The raw water supply has high levels of turbidity, hardness, iron, and manganese. Periodic 'red water events' occur, as do maintenance problems with local water softeners due to iron solids settling out of the water in the distribution system pipes.
  • Treating the water at each building is inefficient and creates other challenges with the distribution system.

Project details

  • The purpose of this project is to develop a comprehensive and cost-effective approach to improve the palatability and aesthetics of MSU's water.
  • The project team will explore a number of alternatives, including an iron filtration system with elevated storage,such as a water tower, reverse osmosis softening,lime softening, and third party purchased water options.
  • As planning progresses, the project team will identify locations within the agriculture and service districts as possible sites for any necessary capital improvements. Any proposed locations will be consistent with the Campus Master Plan.


  • Construction start: June 2018
  • Construction end: December 2019


  • Based on cost experience for similar projects and the broad range of possible solutions,a preliminary project cost estimate is $12,000,000-$32,000,000. A formal estimate will be prepared once a solution is identified and its scope is refined during the planning process.
  • The source of funds for the project is expected to be from the general fund, Residential and Hospitality Services,and Intercollegiate Athletics.

Questions, comments, concerns?

Chris Barnes, construction representative, , (517) 355-1628



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