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Credit: Annie Luo

Hill College House residents reported brown water pouring from sinks in their bathrooms early on Wednesday. The water cleared up later in the afternoon on its own, according to Penn's Facilities and Real Estate Services, but the cause of the incident is unclear.

"This afternoon FRES Operations & Maintenance were alerted to a 'brown water condition' in Hill," FRES Executive Director of Operations and Maintenance Faramarz Vakili wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesday afternoon. "When we arrived at the building and ran the water, it was clear." 

Vakili wrote that FRES had done work on a hot water converter in Hill earlier that day, but he does not believe this to be the cause of the brown water incident. 

"We cannot definitively say where this water came from," Vakili wrote. "We have seen instances where [Philadelphia Water Department] closes a valve somewhere in the system resulting in temporarily discolored water."

When College first-year and Hill resident Jessica Hong went to brush her teeth in her bathroom at about 11 a.m., she said she found brown water running from the sink. Calling the incident "gross" and "unexpected," she threw away her toothbrush and has since been using bottled water from her fridge.

College first-year and Hill resident Gemma Hong said that she saw brown water coming from her sink and heard from friends who also live in Hill that water from the drinking fountains was also brown.

“I understand that dorm buildings can be iffy, but given that Hill is one of the newest dorms on campus, I was pretty disappointed in seeing the sink water come out brown,” Gemma Hong said.

Hill reopened in August 2017 after more than a year of renovations totaling $80 million. The upgrades to the building included new flooring, furniture, window coverings, air conditioning, wiring, bathrooms, and restored windows.

Nursing senior and Hill RA Jada Edwards said that when a student notified her about the brown water in the afternoon, she immediately reached out to emergency facilities, who had already been informed about the situation by Hill’s residential service manager.

Edwards added that by 1:30 p.m., the issue had not been resolved, and a FRES representative was unable to tell her why it happened.

“I just want everyone to be safe," Edwards said. “That’s why I reach out, follow up, and do what I can. And that’s what our residential service manager does. That’s what our staff does. That’s what we do.”

Gemma Hong noted that the brown water was not the first time she had experienced a disappointing maintenance incident at Hill this semester.

“We only have one working toilet in our bathroom because the other two were broken in the first week," Gemma Hong said. "I promise that our floor wasn’t blowing up the toilets — it just looks like things aren’t working very well here in Hill."

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