Water Main Break on the Hill (Web Exclusive)

Many residents were left without access to water in their respective dorms on Tuesday morning, Sept. 7, due to a water main break in the Dorchester circle that occurred a day prior. Water lines were shut off at 8 a.m., and were said to be unavailable for an “undetermined amount of time.”

According to Harry Sparrow, Assistant Director of the Physical Plant, contractors shut down the water tower to relieve the overall pressure on the broken water line and closed the isolation valves in the dorms, which included Caroline, Prince George, Dorchester, and Queen Anne Hall.

“We kept Well 5 on to keep the water pressure up so that people could bathe and clean up, and left building water on overnight. It’s always an inconvenience because the water was shut off to at least six buildings,” Sparrow said. He added, “Everything but the traditional dorms, Montgomery Hall, Cobb House and the Health Center had water. The north side of campus was unaffected because we were able to isolate those buildings from the rest of the system.”

Some residents, such as First-year Leila Kurman of Prince George Hall, found alternative ways to deal with a lack of water supply, including showering in advance of the anticipated 8 a.m. shut off time and using water bottles as replacements in their morning routines.

Contactors were unable to begin construction until after Labor Day, but fortunately for residents the issue was resolved quickly and efficiently around noon.

“It was nice that by the time I got back after class on Tuesday, all the water was back on,” Kurman said. “If it had been something that went on overnight, that would have been awful. I feel like they took care of it well, so it wasn’t a big deal.”

Senior Monica Powell, like many upperclassman residents, was unaware of the issue, as it did not affect the north side of Campus. “The water main break didn’t effect the Greens, so I didn’t even know about it till I came to class,” Powell said. She added, “But I really admire how quickly the staff got things together and sorted it out, because I’m sure it was a big inconvenience for a lot of people.”

Joanne Goldwater, Director of Residential Life, sent an email to the Residence Assistants of Caroline, Dorchester, and Prince George halls alerting them of the inconvenience and asking them to make sure their halls were aware of the problem. Goldwater expressed initial concern of the effect the break would have on residential life.

“I found out on that Monday that the break was going to be affecting more than just the hill where the dorms are, it was going to be affecting food services and the campus center as well,” Goldwater said, “And then to find out that the water was being shut down that morning with no other advance warning to the students; although I know it was an emergency situation, we have students who live in the residence halls, and we have no water for them. It was frustrating – understandable, because we had to fix the problem – but definitely frustrating.”

According to Goldwater, although many were inconvenienced, students approached the issue calmly and maturely. Goldwater said, “I think the students reacted very appropriately, and I commend them for handling this trial and tribulation so maturely while maintenance got everything under control,”

Goldwater added. “I didn’t get any phone calls or emails indicating any anger for what we call in this office ‘out of our control situations.’ People are pretty resilient and understanding of the situations that just cannot be controlled. When someone outside of the college has to come in to take care of the situation, your just have to go with the flow.
No pun intended.”

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