Indoor Water Quality

Potable Water Complaint Procedure

These procedures pertain to potable water complaints that are generated inside Purdue University buildings. This is defined as any source of potable water that is plumbed down stream of the water meter. Purdue University Utilities are responsible for the wells and water distribution system outside the building and up to the water meter.

  1. The potable water complaint is received or directed to Robert Golden of the REM Environmental Health Section.  Secondary contacts are Heath Bentley or Eric Butt.
  2. The building deputy is contacted and an on site investigation is conducted. Central Shop Plumbing will be notified if their services are needed.
  3. The extent and nature of the problem is determined and categorized as either non-hazardous, potentially hazardous, or hazardous. The following procedures will be initiated after the complaint is categorized.

Non-hazardous Determinations

A non-hazardous determination is one that does not pose a threat to health. This type of complaint concerns common potable water conditions that relate to rust, hardness, water heaters or drip coffee pots. Most complaints will fall into this category.


  • Black flecks or rust colored precipitate that settle to the bottom of a glass is formed by the iron pipe used in the water distribution system and is stirred up by construction vibration or from line flushing. This material is non-soluble rust particles.
  • The oily, multicolored sheen that develops on the top of the coffee is the result of brewing coffee beans.
  • The white particles caught in the coffee drip filter are hard water deposits that form on the electric coffee pot heating element. 
  • The sulfur smell emitted from the hot water faucets (sometimes the cold side) is the result of a faulty anode found in the electric water heater. Obtain a sample from the water heater pressure release valve located either on the top or bottom of the unit and check for black discoloration (magnesium).

These situations are explained to the individuals as being a common non-health threatening condition. Recommendations and a copy of the investigation report are provided to the Building Deputy and Central Shop Plumbing.

Potentially Hazardous Determinations

A potentially hazardous determination refers to the presence of an unknown pollutant that has appeared in the potable water system that may or may not constitute a health threat.


  • Odd tastes that suddenly appear.
  • Water with high total dissolved solids.
  • Possible non-pathogenic bacterial contamination (iron metabolizing bacteria).

The building deputy is notified that water should not be consumed until further notice. Warning signs are posted on the drinking fountains.

Health Hazard Identified

Hazardous conditions are determined if there is a definite health threat concerning the suspicion of chemical or bacterial
contamination within the potable system.


  • Water discolored (green or yellow).
  • Potential pesticide or chemical contamination.
  • Serious cross-connections suspected (sewage or chemical).
  • Bacterial contamination (coliforms).

The building deputy is notified that the potable water service will be discontinued until further notice. Warning signs are posted on the drinking fountains and on the entry doorways. If necessary, temporary potable water coolers may be supplied to the building.

Campus Safety Contacts

call 911

If you see something, say something.

Purdue Police
Phone: (765) 494-8221

Purdue Fire
Phone: (765) 494-6919


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