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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Source Water Assessment

The 1996 amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act required states to assess the susceptibility of all public water supplies to potential sources of contamination. The susceptibility rating is determined using a scale ranging from “very low” to “very high” based primarily on geologic sensitivity, water chemistry and locations of contaminant sources. MSU’s Source Water Assessment was completed in 2003. The susceptibility of the campus water supply was deemed to be “moderately high.”

Potential sources of contamination include: above-ground storage tanks, liquid manure spreading, chemical and waste storage areas, biowaste holding tanks, wet labs, equipment storage areas, farming operations, chemical storage, pesticide storage; equipment washing pads, paint storage, mixing and cleaning operations, a biotechnology facility and a number of sites that generate, use and dispose of hazardous waste and other chemicals.

To protect our groundwater from these potential sources of contamination, MSU developed a Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP) in 2000. The program is updated regularly, with the latest revision approved by MDEQ in 2014. The goal of MSU’s WHPP is to manage the land area that surrounds our water supply wells in order to minimize the potential for contamination. In 2015, MSU’s WHPP received the Exemplary Wellhead Protection Program award for a medium-sized system by the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association.
Information about the campus WHPP can be accessed here.

Types of contaminants in ground water supply could include:

  • Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.
  • Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming.
  • Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture and residential uses.
  • Radioactive contaminants, which are naturally occurring.
  • Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are byproducts of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff and septic systems.

To reduce the potential of these contaminants reaching the MSU water supply, a source water assessment was conducted and the WHPP was implemented. These are in the source water assessment section of this report.

Substances found in MSU's water

The tables show test results for substances that were found in MSU’s drinking water. Results are not shown for substances that were tested for but not detected at or above the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Unless otherwise noted, the data presented in this table is from testing that occurred Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2015.

Terms and abbreviations used in the table

MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) — The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MLCs are set as close to the MCLGs as feasible using the best available technology.

MCLG (Maximum Contaminant Level Goal) — The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.

AL (Action Level) — The concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, requires a water system to initiate treatment process or other action.

ALG (Action Level Goal) — The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. ALGs allow for a margin of safety.

TT (Treatment Technique) — A required process intended to reduce teh level contaminants in drinking water.

MRDL (Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level) — The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

MRDLG (Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal) — The level of drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.

SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) — A set of federally mandated regulations that ensure the quality and safety of water provided by public water systems.

ND (None Detected) — Below analytical method detection limit.

NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) — Unit of measurement for water clarity.

RAA (Running Annual Average) — A continuous averaging of four quarters of sampling.

AVG (Average) — Regulatory compliance with some MCLs are based on running annual average of monthly samples.

ppm (parts per million) or milligrams per liter (mg/L) — or one ounce in 7,350 gallons of water.

ppb (parts per billion) or micrograms per liter (μg/L) — or one ounce in 7,350,000 gallons of water.

ppt (parts per trillion) or nanograms per liter (ng/L) — or one ounce in 7,350,000,000 gallons of water.

pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or nanograms per liter (ng/L) — a measure of radioactivity.

The tables show test results for substances that were found in MSU’s drinking water. Results are not shown for substances that were tested for but not at or above the Maximum Containment Level (MCL).

MSU Water Quality Report (Jan. 1-Dec.31, 2015) - Test Results

Constituent/units of measurements

MCL

MCLG

Sample Results

Year1

Likely Sources

Biological Constituents

Total Coliform (% Positive Samples)

>1 positive monthly sample (<5% monthly samples positive)

0

MCL Violation: None Number detected: 1

2015

Naturally present in the environment.

Inorganic

Copper (ppb)3

AL = 1300

1300

340 No samples exceeded the Action Level4

2014

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; Erosion of natural deposits.

Lead (ppb)3

AL = 15

0

4.0 One sample exceeded the Action Level4

2014

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; Erosion of natural deposits

Fluoride (Natural) (ppm)

N/A

N/A

0.3

2015

erosion of natural deposits; water additive which promotes strong teeth; discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories.

Fluoride (Tap) (ppm)

4

4

0.9

2015

Fluoride numbers shown averaged over 2015; Current level at 0.7 per EPA/MDEQ recommended goal.

Barium (ppm)

2

2

0.14

2015

Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits.

Disinfectants

Chlorine (ppm)5

4

4

Highest RAA: 0:4 (Range: 0.1 to 0.7)

2015

Water additive used to control microbes

Disinfectants By-Products

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) (ppb)

80

N/A

RAA: 3.2 (Range: 1.9 to 6.7)

2015

By-product of disinfection

Total Haloacetic Acid (HAA5) (ppb)

60

N/A

RAA: 1.1 (Range: 1.0 to 2.0)

2015

By-product of disinfection

Radionuclides

Gross alpha (pCi/L)

15

0

8.9

2013

Erosion of natural desposits

Radium (pCi/L)

5

0

4.1

2013

Erosion of natural deposits

Unregulated Substance2

Sodium (ppm)

N/A

N/A

17

2015

Erosion of nautral deposits and runoff

1Water quality regulations allow us to monitor some substances less often than once a year because their concentrations are not expected to vary significantly from year to year.

2Unregulated substances are those for which the EPA has not established drinking water standards. The purpose of monitoring these substances is to assist the EPA in determining the occurrence of unregulated substances in drinking water and whether future regulation is warranted.

3MSU is currently on a three-year cycle for lead and copper testing. These results are from 2014.

490 percent of samples were at or below this level.

5Chlorine does not have an associated MCL or MCLG. It is limited by a MRLG which is defined in the definitions section shown on the previous page.

The levels shown are the MRLG limit.

Additional water quality parameters

Parameter

Units

Average Level Detected

Range

Alkalinity

ppm

326

259-365

Aluminum

ppm

0.012

.001-.028

Arsenic

ppm

ND

.002-.006

Cadmium

ppm

ND

ND

Chloride

ppm

25

10-39

Chromium

ppm

ND

ND

Conductivity

S/cm

853

559-1083

Hardness (calcium carbonate)

ppm

390

302-472

Iron

ppm

1.1

0.3-1.6

Lead

ppm

ND

ND

Manganese

ppm

0.12

.05-.356

Mercury

ppm

ND

ND

Nickel

ppm

ND

ND

Nitrate as N

ppm

ND

ND

Nitrite as N

ppm

ND

ND

Sodium

ppm

17

6-17

Sulfate

ppm

60

35-139

Temperate1

55

53-57

pH

S.U.

7.3

7.1-7.4

Zinc

ppm

0.068

.03-10

Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring rule 3 (UMCR3)

Average

Range

Molybdenum (ppb)

1.4

1.3-1.5

Strontium (ppb)

270

220-320