CHAPEL HILL — Friday night, officials with the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) said water will not be safe for Chapel Hill students until at least Saturday afternoon due to a shutdown of the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant and a major water main break Friday morning on the northeast side of Chapel Hill. The water supply in the OWASA system reached very low levels, and a state of emergency was declared for Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Officials have become aware of Chapel Hill students, accustomed to fresh water to drink and fill bongs with, have resorted to drinking potentially dangerous bottled water: many of the brands are tainted with malt, corn, and peat and can pose hazards of their own.
“We have reached a crisis level. Students have been known to ingest this bottled water, many of which are discolored brown or or urine-colored, and end up in the ER,” said Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of the Dean of Students and Provost of Making up Really Long Job Titles Desirée Rieckenberg.
The bottled water, which can be obtained at some specialty stores, comes from myriad places, but ones from Scotland and Kentucky seem to be especially popular among the Carolina students.
“The charred oak that UNC scientists have found in these liquids is especially bad for our students’ stomachs and livers. We highly encourage our students to drink LaCroix water, or, in a true emergency, Deer Park water,” said Rieckenberg. “It’s best for our students to boil store-brand water first, though.”
N.C. State faced a similar crisis when a downtown Raleigh water main broke in 2013, but students there tended to drink canned water, possibly contaminated with barley and hops.
Carolina will be closed until further notice, throwing into sharp relief the question: who will protest the water shortage which is probably President Trump’s fault if not the students?