UAF looks to contractor for cleaner water supply

An ongoing water quality issue at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has prompted the university to commit to an outside water source.

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The University of Alaska Fairbanks is contracting with College Utilities Corporation to provide potable water on campus. UAF Facilities Services Associate Vice Chancellor Scott Bell says the utility supply will replace water from campus wells that began showing elevated levels of disinfectant by products earlier this year.

The heightened levels of chlorination by-products in UAF water prompted notification of the campus community, because of potential threat to those with a severely compromised immune system, infants, pregnant women, or the elderly, who are cautioned to seek advice from a health care provider about drinking the water. The UAF water treatment plant has employed carbon filters to try to meet a federal water standard, but Bell says they’re not working as well as hoped.

Bell adds that connecting to the College Utility water system is a half million dollar project, but the switch won’t ultimately cost the university much more than operating its own water treatment facility.

Bell says UAF is working with College Utilities to try to make the connection this fall. He says UAF uses about 7 million gallons of potable water per month.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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