Broken Water Main Delays Operations

Photo by Robin Weinstein.


Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

On Jan. 22, there were two isolated incidents on campus which delayed campus operations for several hours during the day.

According to an email sent to the campus community from Director of Facilities Operations Gary Buckman, there was a water main break on the west side of the Student Union (SU) and a damaged supply line in LeFevre Hall. The break led to water in Haggerty Admissions Building (HAB) and the SU being shut off.

The supply line damage led to heat and steam being shut off in Hasbrouck Dining Hall and residence halls in Hasbrouck Quad.

The broken water main was first evidenced early that Wednesday as water rose to the surface level of the SU concourse, Buckman said.  He also said while there was no definitive cause of what caused the break, he believes the break was due to pressure on the main.

“When we uncovered it (the water main), we saw a large stone section on top of it,” Buckman said.  “I think the pipe was on its last pop. It’s a 40-year-old system and it hasn’t been changed. They haven’t gone through any renovations.”

Buckman said a water main can break due to cold and “frigid” temperatures, as they can freeze pipes and make them more prone to cracking. He said this fear was part of his reasoning for shutting off the steam and heat in the Hasbrouck quad and Hasbrouck Dining Hall.

A contractor working on the LeFevre Hall renovations “inadvertently” cut into a supply side of the high temperature hot water line, which affected the allocation of heat and steam on campus, Buckman said. He said the repairs needed for the Hasbrouck Quad were more dire than those needed for the water main break.

“Water main breaks are showers and hot water, so it’s lower on the scale as opposed to heating,” Buckman said. “It’s an inconvenience to not take a shower for  a few hours, but we need heat. With the quad we lost water pressure and temporarily shut the steam off that feeds Hasbrouck Dining Hall. That was critical.”

Two emails with updates concerning repairs were sent later in the day after Buckman’s original email was sent out. The heating was fixed within hours of the original damage to the hot water line. The second email with an update on the water main repair was sent to the campus community later in the evening.

Buckman said cost of repairs were small and that since the incidents were in house repairs campus workers would be given overtime pay for the work done on each individual incident.

Third-year international relations and Asian Studies major Sampson Oppedisano said he had hoped the heating had been fixed before students went to dinner, but that the lack of heat was  manageable.

“Unexpected things happen so you have to just bear with them,” Oppedisanno said. “I think it’s more the fact that because it’s been so much colder lately than it usually is, students were much more concerned and/or frustrated.”