Water Quality

How we're improving water quality on campus

Michigan State University began construction in 2018 on a $21 million water treatment facility that will remove iron and other minerals from campus water to improve its taste and appearance.

While safe to drink and regularly tested, the groundwater pumped from on-campus wells naturally contains high levels of minerals and hardness that result in complaints about its aesthetic qualities. Once online, the plant will start removing those minerals, but it may take up to two years for noticeable improvement with some buildings seeing changes sooner than others.

The treatment plant as well as a 2-million-gallon water tower are being built at the corner of Service Road and Recycling Drive. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2019 and only after extensive testing will water distribution to campus begin, which is expected this year.

As in any municipal water system, water discoloration events still may occur when pipes break or are flushed out for maintenance, but the discoloration will become less noticeable over time as accumulated minerals and sediment are removed from the system. 

Photo of the new water tower with its tank raised to height.
The new 2-million-gallon MSU water tower and water treatment facility on Service Road will begin operating in 2020.

Curious about where MSU gets its water or why red-water events occur?

Take a look with this video to find out where campus water comes from and what we're doing to reduce red-water events in the future with MSU's new water treatment facility. 

water report cover image


We are pleased to report that Michigan State University's drinking water meets or surpasses all federal and state regulatory requirements. We have a highly qualified staff of water utility professionals who understand the importance of the water quality for our community.

Our Water Quality Report is available online with complete quality testing results.

To address two common questions we receive, please know that we have tested for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFCs) and did not detect them. We will continue to test the water supply for these substances as required by the state. 

Like PFAS, there is no detectable lead in MSU drinking water when it enters the distribution system. The university has been testing for lead and other contaminants since 1992, and the water results consistently have been in full compliance, with lead levels below the action level of 15 parts per billion.

Filtered water station


MSU has installed drinking water and water bottle refill stations that include additional filters across campus as a sustainable, aesthetic response to the campus community’s concerns with MSU’s drinking water. 

We encourage our campus customers to hydrate sustainably with a reusable water bottle to avoid trash that will end up in landfills.

Use this map to find one near you.

Water pouring into a glass


Our water comes from 15 groundwater wells, each over 340 feet deep, located in the agricultural district. Most MSU water is treated with:

  • Chlorine to disinfect
  • Fluoride to promote strong teeth and bones
  • Phosphate to protect against corrosion

Untreated water is used for irrigation and other mostly non-potable processes.

Test tubes with a water dropper


The treatment facility will remove iron and manganese to improve the water’s aesthetics, and the general water chemistry will not change significantly. However, we strongly encourage you to review how the changeover could affect you. For example, research that requires very high-quality water would already have polishing systems to remove unwanted materials from the water. Removing some of the minerals at the water treatment facility should make the polishing systems work better but will probably not eliminate the need for them. We will be performing multiple water chemistry tests that will be available before campus distribution begins.

If you have any questions or would like more detail about the upcoming water system changes, please reach out to IPF at ipf.communications@msu.edu. A representative will be available to discuss the water system changes in detail with your department if desired.