Stadium water tests high in copper

Officials are monitoring rusted and corroded pipes at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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INDIANAPOLIS - The stadium authority is conducting hundreds of tests to determine if the water at Lucas Oil Stadium is safe to drink.

Eyewitness News reported officials are already spending millions of dollars to replace rusted and corroded pipes at the stadium, just three years after it opened. Now, the concern is over the water the fans drink. 13 Investigates poured over their test results and conducted other tests to determine the safety of the water.

It all began with the discovery of a leaking pipe in the employee lounge last July.

"We discovered advanced corrosion, rust, wear and tear unusual for a building only two years old," Stadium Director John Klipsch said in January.

Klipsch said officials found the same corrosion in other galvanized pipes - the ones that supply drinking water throughout the stadium. He said that's when they began testing the water and flushing the pipes to keep them clear until they could be replaced after the Colts' season ended.

While Klipsch said the water was always safe to drink, saying in February they've been testing the water "on a regular basis."

"It's gotten a clean bill of health. I'd drink it today," he said three months ago.

But would you?

13 Investigates asked for the test results and looked through hundreds of pages of data.

The documents show Patriot Engineering took hundreds of samples from dozens of locations around the stadium from August through January. The water met EPA standards in all categories except copper levels.

In a handful of cases, it exceeded the 1.3 milligram per liter requirement, testing as high as 2.8. Klipsch called those "blips" or "anomalies."

"We did go back and test the same areas to make sure they weren't repeaters," he said.

Eyewitness News did our own tests, to find out for ourselves if the water was safe, during a firefighters conference this spring. We collected samples from a vendor, a water fountain and a restroom faucet. Lab results showed the water passed the tests in lead, iron and bacteria levels but failed the copper test.

The drinking fountain had copper levels more than three times higher than allowed by the EPA. High levels of copper can cause intestinal problems.

"Well, there are lots of reasons for a blip in tests and we've been doing them regularly," Klipsch said. "Hundreds of tests at dozens of locations and it could be a blip in the copper at your location on that day."

While he says the water is safe to drink, all the problem pipes will be replaced by the end of July - in plenty of time for the Colts preseason.