Sustainability

Water Quality and Access

Assuring the Brown community and clean and healthy water supply.

Brown’s water is sourced from surface water reservoirs located in a 93-square mile, mostly rural, forested watershed basin located primarily in Scituate, RI. The main source of this water supply is the Scituate Reservoir, which is the terminal reservoir in a network of six interconnected reservoirs.

Brown’s domestic water supplier, Providence Water, conducts annual water tests that are made publically available every year. The Annual Water Quality Report tests thousands of water samples to determine the presence of any biological, inorganic, volatile organic, or synthetic organic contaminants. In rare cases when contaminant levels are higher than normal, Providence Water works with experts at the national, state, and local level to identify and execute mitigation plans. 

In addition to the testing, screening, and precautions taken by Providence Water to ensure high-quality drinking water, Brown also works to ensure that all drinking water on campus is safe for consumption. Facilities Management operations staff conduct regular maintenance including water fountains and hydration stations.

Lead Testing at Brown

College Hill is home to numerous historic structures, the oldest of which is University Hall, which dates to 1770. To ensure that the University’s older water infrastructure is not susceptible to lead contamination, Brown’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department conducts periodic water sampling in all buildings to test lead levels. If levels exceed the EPA’s threshold of 15 parts per billion, EHS works with Facilities Management and Auxiliary Housing to address the issue immediately by providing bottled water or water filters, signage, and more.

The University is focused on ensuring clean drinking water is accessible for all community members and visitors. Brown’s building standards require any new construction or large renovation project include water fountain and bottle-filling hydration stations.

Furthermore, in response to requests from the Brown community including the Undergraduate Council of Students, the University has installed new hydration stations in multiple residence halls on campus. Brown encourages its community to fill their reusable bottles at these stations whenever possible instead of purchasing wasteful plastic water bottles, which are now unavailable on campus thanks to the Beyond the Bottle initiative.