Students quench for solution to multiple boil advisories

Riley Guerzini, Editor-in-Chief

The Evansville Water and Sewage Utility have placed a boil advisory on the university’s campus as well as in housing for the second time in three weeks, frustrating students as they have been unable to drink clean water. 

Indianapolis native and Sophomore Public Relations and Advertising major Aniyah Scott, said she has never experienced a boil advisory in her life before coming to USI and has now been through two in the last three weeks.

“It’s been a huge inconvenience,” said Scott. “I’m afraid to clean my mouth with the water so I’m having to use bottled water to brush my teeth.”

Both boil advisories have impacted areas include north of the Ohio River, south of Mill Road, west of St. Joe Avenue and east of the Posey County Line.

The first boil advisory, issued on Oct. 10, was due to a main water line break on North Red Bank Road, while the one this week, issued Oct. 20, was due to a water main break in a 16” pipe on Upper Mt. Vernon Road.

Josh Meredith
The EWSU advised students, faculty, staff and administrators to boil water for at least 10 minutes before using along with using bottled water to brush teeth or cook. Water bottles were placed on water fountains across the university.

Sophomore Electrical Engineering major Samantha Fitzgerald said the largest problem with the boil advisory has been the impact to the environment caused by plastic waste from the increased use of water bottles.

“The problem is bottled water causes so much waste and we need to be really conscious about that right now,” she said. “I like to use a reusable water bottle, but I can’t do that right now because of the boil advisory.”

Housing and Residence Life has provided bottled drinking water for housing students and employees at the HRL office, the Community Center and the front desk of each residence hall.

“We have a lot of pallets of water that we store in our basement that we keep for situations like this,” Housing and Residence Life Director Amy Price said. “We also did go and buy more water and worked with Facilities to get more water so we have enough here.”

Price said her staff were quick to respond and with the help of Administrative Associate Melissa Burch and Area Coordinator Mayur Gangala, they were able to inform students and buy more water.

“She gets it out there, gets it out there quick. Students can ask questions and she responds and she was doing that from home to make sure students know what is happening,” she said. “He took his minivan and got us about 1,200 bottles of water.”

HRL works with Food Services, Public Safety, Facilities, Operations and Planning and University Communications to plan what to do in this type of emergency. She said this happens almost every year.

The EWSU advised students, faculty, staff and administrators to boil water for at least 10 minutes before using along with using bottled water to brush teeth or cook. Water bottles were placed on water fountains across the university.

Bottled water was sent to all departments and schools for faculty and staff and in main academic building lobbies according to USI’s twitter page.

Rebecca Diamond, assistant director of dining services, said all restaurants were open during the boil advisories except Red Mango and Starbucks.

“That is pretty much because having to haul ice over for the smoothies and stuff and we cannot use the espresso machine because it will ruin it along with the coffee brewers and the hot water spigot,” she said. “To be safe they have to reach 180 degrees in this instance and they do not.”

Diamond said Sodexo brought in bottled water and ice, but they are trying to use it sparingly. The other restaurants provided bottled beverages instead of fountain drinks. Diamond said they put in an emergency order with Coca-Cola and Pepsi to have more drinks delivered to campus.

Sodexo employees have large vats of water that they have boiled to use for hand-washing in each food-serving unit.

“We’ve got chemicals in our three-compartment sinks that good for sanitizing under these conditions,” she said. “For our dishwashers, the final rinse reaches 180 degrees so all of our cookware is safe.”

Diamond said students should be patient as they are working around the problem.

“I know it’s an inconvenience and the people with the fills on their tumblers, of course we won’t be able to honor those while the fountains are down,” she said. “As soon as we get word, we will have to sanitize the ice makers on our coke fountains and things like that. Even though they say it’s over, there are still some things we need to take care of before we go back to business as usual.”

Following this week’s boil advisory issued Oct. 20, a satirical poster titled “Essential Gear for Students” was taped above each water fountain on campus. The poster included a mini water boiler with a USI logo on it and claimed it was available in the campus store.

The poster also stated:

  • “Boil your own water
  • “Fits in a backpack”
  • “SODEXO approved”
  • “Fun, Fun, Fun!”