Stetson Students Tour DeLand Utility, Learn about Safe Drinking Water

Students in city lab
Stetson students listen as city Lab Tech II, Larissa McCoy, explains the testing requirements for the municipal water supply on Thursday, April 13.

Stetson University students toured the city of DeLand’s water facilities on Thursday, April 13, and learned about the extensive testing and monitoring to ensure safe drinking water for the campus and rest of the city.

The students from a Foundation of Environmental Health Sciences class visited the Utilities Department and learned how the city uses deep wells to pump water from the Floridan Aquifer, treats and filters it, and then monitors it continuously as it’s piped throughout the city.

“Five million gallons of water a day — every day,” said John Stanberry, DeLand Water Production superintendent. “We take a lot of pride in keeping our community in water. … Nobody ever realizes what goes into it, day in and day out. We basically run 24/7.”

The tour came after a class project on water quality testing by Nicole Porther, Ph.D., a visiting assistant professor of public health. Porther said her students used test strips for their project, and not sophisticated instruments like what they saw in the city’s testing lab on Thursday.

Follow-up tests by the city of DeLand and an independent laboratory found the water is safe for drinking at Stetson, and meets all state and federal requirements.

“We really are subject to a lot of environmental regulation,” explained Keith Riger, director of DeLand’s Public Services.

Larissa McCoy, city Lab Tech II, went through the lengthy list of required tests and showed students a large binder filled with some of the regulations on tests, duplicate tests and the proper calibration of the city’s lab equipment.

Nicole Porther, Ph.D., talks to students in her class, including Catie Hessler (in green shirt), during a tour of the DeLand Utilities Department. Keith Riger, director of DeLand’s Public Services, listens in the back.

“It gets complicated,” she added.

The students and professor Porther said the tour was informative. “It was nice to see how much they value quality control, which I knew, and that is very important,” Porther said.

Stetson senior Anna Miner said, as a public health major, she was very interested in a discussion about adding fluoride to municipal water supplies, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay in children.

“They did it specifically to help children’s teeth and I think that’s a really nice touch,” said Miner, who will attend graduate school at Tulane University in the fall. “It shows it’s not just science. It’s actually caring about the community.”