Water Main Break Shuts Off Lower Campus Plumbing, Boil Water Notice Issued

Plumbing in many lower campus buildings was shut down on Sunday, Feb. 6 due to a water main break on Broad St. The incident caused significant flooding in the area and, later in the evening, a Boil Water Notice was issued campus wide.

In an email sent to all students, Associate Vice President for Emergency Management Joseph Hernon listed 113 Broad Street, Bryan Complex, athletic facilities and the townhouses as the affected buildings. In a later email, he verified that several more areas faced plumbing issues as a result of the water main break, including Preston Hill, the heating plant, Dana Arts Center, Student Health Services, James B. Colgate Hall, Persson Hall, campus safety, Case-Geyer Library, and the OUS House. Multiple Broad St. houses including Cushman House, Phi Delta Theta and 118 Broad St. were impacted as well.

He added that the Chobani Café was also closed due to the plumbing status in the library. Although the O’Connor Campus Center and Frank Dining Hall continued to operate normally throughout most of Sunday, Frank was forced to close early as Dining Services cited the water being shut off.

In an email on the morning of Monday, Feb. 7, Hernon confirmed that water service would return to affected buildings throughout the morning. Chobani Café then reopened later in the afternoon while Sono and Donovan’s Pub remained closed.

Vehicles had to traverse the intersection of Broad St. and Lally Lane with caution throughout Sunday afternoon due to significant flooding as village workers continued to repair the damage.

Senior Ellie Miller was on her way to a shift at the climbing wall near Huntington Gym when she noticed the flooding. Although the climbing wall and gym continued to operate, the facilities were among those without access to water.

“I saw two [Campus Safety] cars blocking the gym parking lot by 113 with their lights on and then I saw these huge puddles in the street and water really flowing out from under the parking lot,” Miller said.

The village issued a Boil Water Notice the evening of the incident, advising students across campus – including those in unaffected buildings – to boil tap water before consumption. This cautionary measure reduces the risk of ingesting bacteria caused by the decreased water pressure after the breakage. Good Nature Farm Brewery and Community Memorial Hospital were also advised to follow these orders, according to the notice. Hernon repeated these terms in his email and added that water used for bathing does not need to be boiled. He also confirmed that beverage stations around campus would close as a result of this order.

First-year Gwen Field, who lives at 113 Broad, discovered the notice taped to the front door of her building and immediately questioned whether other students would be able to safely consume tap water under these guidelines.

“I know some students have kettles, but the majority of people I know don’t,” Field said. “People might not be able to make it to Price Chopper in the coming days to get bottled water.”

Although Dining Services staff began to distribute bottled water in residence halls after the notice, the quantity was not enough for all students at 113 Broad, according to Field.

Junior Natalie Middleton, who faced water disruptions in the townhouses, echoed these sentiments and added that living with such a large group made everyday tasks difficult.

“It’s been tough in a house of 16 people when we have so many dishes and so much laundry to do,” Middleton said. “The school delivered us a couple cases of water but didn’t fill us in on any of their plans. We appreciate the work they have [done] but it definitely felt like a crisis.”

When contacted, facilities stated that they were not responsible for updating students, instead relying on a web of different administrative groups that made communication difficult.

Just as students were held back by the incident, the water main break also took Dining Services by surprise. According to Don Stanwick, the resident district manager for Dining Services, there were very limited amounts of bottled water available on Sunday that staff struggled to distribute to the vast number of students affected.

“We had to take out an emergency order from Coca-Cola on Monday,” Stanwick said. “Now, students can go to dining halls and pick up a bottle.”

While water service resumed at affected buildings the day after the incident, the Boil Notice remains in effect until Friday, Feb. 11.