Open Letter to Adams State Community

(03-24-2008)

11 a.m., March 24, 2008

The Centers for Disease Control have just confirmed that the Alamosa City water supply is contaminated with salmonella.

Adams State places the highest priority on the health and safety of our students and employees. After notification of the City's bottled water advisory late Wednesday afternoon, March 21, the college immediately passed this warning onto the campus, discontinued use of municipal water in the cafeteria, and distributed bottled water in campus housing.

The situation has created some anxiety, and unfortunately, generated misinformation. Although the water restriction has caused some inconvenience, Adams State is not experiencing a health crisis - if that were the case, public health officials would have ordered our closure.

College Operation

The decision whether or not to close the college is partly dependent on exactly when and how long city water will be unusable during the disinfection process. WE DO NOT YET HAVE THAT INFORMATION. Adams State's accreditation requires students attend courses for a specific number of "contact hours." If we cancel classes for more than one day, that time will need to be made up after Commencement.

Adams State is participating in briefings by county emergency management to obtain information as soon as possible and pass it on to the campus. Please understand that officials do not yet have all the answers to common questions, and information on the water disinfection process has changed over the last five days.

Adams State is updating the ASC Water website and emailing the campus with new developments and directives as soon as they become available.

Water Safety at Adams State College

  • Our Food Service (Sodexho) was quickly approved for operation by the Consumer Protection Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The cafeteria is preparing all food with bottled water, in accordance with public health requirements. The Food Service is taking all necessary precautions and is stocking bottled water, juice, and pop. Paper and plastic plates and utensils are being used.
  • Adams State is providing hand sanitizer in all campus restrooms, including residence halls.
  • Bottled water was distributed to students and families residing on campus Wednesday night. On March 22, 800 one-gallon jugs of bottled water were distributed. Students may use the jugs and other containers at four city water distribution sites, which are providing unlimited bulk water.
  • Beginning today, a 500-gallon water tank is available for container refills north of the Student Union Building. It will operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be refilled as needed.

Water System Disinfection

As of right now, the city plans to begin a three-stage treatment process of the water system at 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 25. Treatment will proceed on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis; Adams State is located in the region to be treated second. Residents will be notified before Stage I treatment begins.

Stage I

  • A high concentration of chlorine will be introduced to the water system.
  • Water should only be used to flush toilets
  • ONLY BOTTLED WATER should be consumed
  • Showers are safe until the flush begins.
  • Stage I may only last for a few hours

Stage II:

  • Chlorine levels will decrease.
  • Showering may be permitted
  • BOTTLED WATER MAY BE NECESSARY FOR UP TO TWO WEEKS

Salmonella Facts

  • As of March 23, 216 cases of salmonella had been reported in the Alamosa community. Only 68 of those cases have been confirmed by laboratory tests; nine people have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths.
  • Only 12 Adams State students (out of over 2,000 students and employees) have reported symptoms of salmonella, not yet confirmed by lab tests.
  • Salmonella must be ingested for an individual to become infected; therefore, sharing shower stalls and bathrooms does not pose a risk.
  • WASHING HANDS AND FOLLOWING WITH HAND SANITIZER IS THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT FURTHER SPREAD OF THE DISEASE.

I encourage our campus community to continue to be calm and flexible as this situation proceeds. We deeply appreciate the cooperation and exceptional efforts of our students and staff. I welcome anyone with additional concerns to come talk with me at my office in Richardson Hall.

Dr. David Svaldi
President, Adams State College