Campus Drinking Water

NC State University recognizes the importance of delivering high quality drinking water to its students, faculty, staff and visitors.  In 2018, the NC State Water Quality Management Team was formed to evaluate and develop strategies to mitigate potential risks associated with water distribution on campus and respond effectively to any issue that may arise.

The resource provided in this page would help you successfully navigate the elements of this program. For questions or help, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at (919) 515-7915  or email us at

Water Quality Overview

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and enforce standards that municipal public drinking water systems must follow. EPA protects drinking water quality by limiting the levels of specific contaminants that can adversely affect public health and are known or anticipated to occur in water from public water systems. Each limit established under the National primary drinking water regulations is the maximum level that a contaminant can be present in the drinking water without being a health risk. See the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations website for more information.

NC State water quality program routinely assesses samples from university buildings for traces of lead, copper, turbidity and microbes (Total coliform/E.Coli). The Program is not intended to survey all of the parameters a municipal system must test for as the City of Raleigh is responsible for the university’s water source.

The tabs below contain information of common contaminants that are being sampled on campus and how they compare in the list of drinking sources. Please select each tab below for more information.

NC State University Water Source

NC State University receives potable water (water meeting criteria for human consumption) from the City of Raleigh E.M. Johnson (EMJ) Water Treatment Plant in Northwest Raleigh. The City of Raleigh, in accordance with federal guidelines, publishes a Consumer Confidence Report that lists the levels of contaminants that have been detected in the municipal water supply, and whether the system meets state and EPA drinking water standards. The EMJ Water Treatment Plant maintains the water pH in the 8.4 to 8.5 range and adds corrosion inhibitors to minimize the leaching of metals in the water transmission, distribution and service lines and building plumbing systems. It also provides a residual disinfectant to inhibit microbiological growth.

Water Quality Team

The Water Quality Management Team (WQMT) is comprised of representatives from Facilities Division, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and other campus partners. It is the WQMT’s goal to ensure high quality water is available to all campus users by implementing best practices for water service lines, identifying and mitigating potential problems associated with water quality on campus, and responding to any water-quality related concerns.

Water Quality Pilot Study

In 2019 NC State’s Water Quality Management Team conducted a pilot project testing for bacteria, chlorine, copper and lead in two campus buildings. The results were compared to EPA drinking water standards and FDA bottled water standards. Results in both buildings were well within those standards.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when campus occupancy was low and little water was being used, the team focused solely on testing chlorine levels in buildings and  ensure there was no bacterial growth in the campus system.

In 2023, the team implemented an ongoing testing program beginning with water bottle filling stations in facilities, housing and dining locations. This summer, more than 110 filtered and unfiltered fixtures and water bottle filling stations across campus have been sampled.

No matter where you are on campus, there is safe — and recently tested — drinking water near you. Use the WQMT’s online map to find the nearest water bottle filling station that has additional filtration or recently passed testing.

Currently, the WQMT meets periodically to develop and outline strategies and protocols that will help confirm the quality of potable water in our facilities, including how and where to collect samples, and to make sampling data available to the university community through a Drinking Water Data reporting website Water Quality results table

Sampling Process

Drinking water sampling is a multi-step process that requires each drinking water fixture to sit unused for 8-18 hours before the sample is collected. This is according to EPA’s recommendation available in its guidance for drinking water sampling, 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water.

 The following steps outlines EHS’s campus drinking water sampling process:

  • Flush each drinking water fixture to be sampled by turning on the cold water tap or water outlet and allow the water to run for approximately three minutes.
  • Isolate the fixture to be tested by placing a sign indicating that the water fixture should not be used by building occupants
  •  Allow the drinking water source to sit unused for 8-18 hours.
  •  Collect the sample after the waiting time has elapsed
  •  After sample collection, return resume use of the drinking water fixture to normal service unless sample results indicate concentrations of the any test substance is above the specified action level until the results are available.

 Note: All samples are analyzed by an accredited independent lab.