Florida A&M students may be surprised to find out that the greenish residue coming out of the water fountains in Coleman Library isn’t there for decoration. But, according to the university’s custodial services and a professor of botany, the greenish residue is nothing to worry about.
Swenson Anioce, a 22-year-old senior psychology student from Miami, said he always thought the water tasted funny on campus.
“I thought it was part of the school colors,” Anoice said jokingly.James Muchovej, a Botany professor at Florida A&M for 20 years, took a sample of the residue and tested its solubility with isopropyl (rubbing alcohol).
His findings showed that the residue is actually a product of copper sulfate, a salt, and that the residue was due to the calcium in our water.
“In actuality, copper sulfate is going to keep the algae from growing,” Muchovej said. “Copper sulfate is often used as a herbicide for aquatic plants.”
Muchovej also tested actual algae found from pipes that water the plants in the greenhouse. He found a mass of filaments indicating living bodies in the algae versus the salt crystals found from the
Ron Darron, assistant director of custodian services, said the water fountains are not cleaned on a daily basis, but are based on their staffing level, which correlates with Association Physical and Plant Administrators Five Levels of Clean.
APPA is a clean energy standard used throughout the U.S.
“APPA tells you based on the staffing level what it takes to maintain every aspect of cleaning. When you’re not at that level, you make conscious decisions on what you don’t do and you can back down to any level of cleanliness based on your staffing level. As a manager I make those decisions,” Darron said.
Although the residue poses no bodily harm to the student body that choose to drink it, some students still feel the fountains should be cleaned daily and would make the campus look more welcoming without residue.
Tory McGriff, a freshman from Jacksonville said fountains should look more presentable for students.
“For people to want to eat something or drink from something it should look presentable. If it doesn’t look presentable then nobody’s going to use it,” said McGriff.