Water filters across campus are on red or yellow filter status

Caption: PLNU water fountain filter status indicator lights have been on red and yellow for several weeks. Photo Credit: Rachel Lemmen

For several weeks, many of Point Loma Nazarene University’s water filters across campus have been on red or yellow filter status, especially in highly trafficked areas such as outside the Caf and near the Activities Resource Center (ARC). 

Campus water fountain filters are either the Oasis or Elkay models which, according to their websites, aid in reducing lead, cysts, chlorine, sediment, particulate, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) from drinking water.

The fountains have a green, yellow or red LED filter status light to indicate when the filter needs to be serviced. According to Equiparts Drinking Fountains, the green light means “the filter has between 100-21% of its filter life left. No action is needed when an Elkay bottle filler filter light is green.” 

When the light is yellow, “the filter has between 20-1% of its filter life left. When the yellow filter light is present, then the facility maintenance technician should make plans to replace the filter soon by either ordering the replacement filter if a filter is not already in stock at their facility or scheduling a time in the near future to replace the filter if already in stock,” according to Equiparts Drinking Fountains. 

When the light is red, “the filter inside the units has either used 100% of its life or has been in use for over 12 months and that the unit is no longer providing users with filtered water. When the red filter light is present, then the facility maintenance technician should replace the filter as soon as possible,” according to Equiparts Drinking Fountains.

There are water fountains with green filter statuses in Bond Academic Center, Evans Hall and Fermanian Business Center. Fountains in particularly busy areas, such as outside the Caf and ARC, have red and yellow filter statuses. Several buildings across campus, such as Crill Performance Hall, Cabrillo Hall and Taylor Hall, either do not have water fountain filters or the fountains are non-operational.

Jay Medlam, manager of facilities maintenance, said that building managers usually put work orders in for anything that needs to be done in their given building. According to Medlam, filters are replaced as soon as a work order is put in by students or staff.

“We actively work on the work order system so sometimes the building managers will put a work order in to let us know,” said Medlam. “We do typically have [filters] on stock, typically all the time. If we see them, we change them.”

Cambria Grant, a third-year psychology major, often utilizes the water fountains since her own water filter broke. The status of the filters raised concerns for Grant regarding how long the filter lights have been like this.

“Having those filter lights red, [is] a bit concerning. But it’s kinda like, that’s my main source of water right now,” said Grant. “I’ve seen them be red for a long time, and last year I feel like I noticed that for extensive periods of time. So I feel like where my concern is, how long is it building up and just kind of getting worse and worse. And past a certain point, we don’t have lights to indicate how much worse it’s getting. So it’s kinda like, what are the school’s priorities in terms of our health and safety.” 

Lea Reese, a third-year environmental studies major, said that the filter status lights haven’t caused her to change her drinking habits. 

“It’s not much different than where we get our water from in the dorms,” said Reese. “You don’t really have good options no matter what, like you either have the water in the Caf, which is your best bet, or going to a water station where the filters are yellow or red, which, because we’re drinking sink water anyway… I don’t really care.” 

Mackenzie Smotherman, a first-year child and adolescent development major, noticed a difference in taste compared to her water at home.

“When I came here I was really picky with my water, like I really liked my home water because it feels clean,” said Smotherman. “But this did not satisfy the cleanliness. It doesn’t taste bad, but it doesn’t taste clean.” 

Medlam encourages students to put a work order in if they see a filter that needs replacing. Students can find the work order portal on the Department of Facilities Maintenance website.