The cleanliness of water is frequently questioned. Science has proven that bacteria are constantly surrounding us, residing in the food and drinks we consume; however, recent tests from a Pierce drinking fountain and tap show no bacteria growth.
A study of water samples taken from the College Center fountain, tap in the bathroom and soda fountain, in the cafeteria, showed that bacteria did not grow from the water after 24 hours.
Similar studies in other states showed very different results. For instance, in 2007, ABC News wrote article about a 13-year-old boy, Kyleray Katherman from Oregon, who put water from North Bend Middle School fountains and toilets under the same scrutiny. The bacteria from the water fountain water grew immensely, while less grew from the toilet water.
Clean water at Pierce could mean healthier students. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bacteria living in the bowels can enter the urinary tract and cause an infection. Clean water gives the kidneys the ability to flush out these damaging bacteria before they can cause a urinary tract infection.
The study of Pierce’s water, conducted by Professor Dale Blum, the biology department coordinator, and an assistant, consisted of putting the water samples under a microscope. After the examination showed nothing in the water, samples were then put on three different dishes.
The first and second dish had tryptic soy agar, a basic nutrient for microbes, in it. The third dish had eosin methylene blue, which has a system where, if escherichia coli is on it, the material will turn metallic green.
After water was swabbed onto the dishes, one of the TSA dishes and the EMB dish were both put into an incubator set at 37 degrees Celsius, or 98 degrees Fahrenheit, the average temperature for the human body. The other TSA was left at room temperature.
All the dishes were left to sit for 24 hours. When checked, the dishes were clean. 48 hours later, the water was checked again. By that time, only the water from the tap and the water fountain remained clean.
Water from the soda fountain grew bacteria on the TSA dish that was in the incubator. Further tests must be taken to ensure the validity of these results.
So why is Pierce’s fountain and tap water so pure?
Unlike other cities, which depend on a river or reservoir as their main source, Puyallup, Pierce’s supplier, uses underground wells as a significant percentage of their water source.
According to Puyallup Public Utilities’ website, approximately 20 percent of Puyallup’s water is well water, 63 percent comes from the Salmon Springs, 16 percent from Maplewood Springs and the remaining 1 percent is from an inter-tie with the City of Tacoma.
While methods of retrieving water have their own advantages and disadvantages, ground water has a possibility of being cleaner.
While surface water tends to be clean, it is also more subject to bacteria; however, ground water, for the most part, rules out this threat.
According to Tom Bush, professor and department coordinator of the Earth and Space Science department, ground water comes from precipitation landing on the ground, melting into water – if necessary – and sinking into pores. The water then fills the open space. The result is ground water.
The top of where the open spaces are completely saturated is called the water table. This water can be retrieved by drilling down beneath the water table into the saturated zone and pumping the water out.
“[Ground water] tends to be relatively pure because ground water, just like surface water, does move, although it moves a lot more slowly,” Bush said, “but as it moves through aquifers, which would be layers of rock or sediment that have porosity, the aquifers provide a natural filtering service.”
Puyallup Water and Utilities uses these natural purifications in their water.
Results for the cleanliness of the soda fountain water are still pending and will be posted later.
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