Water Main Break Limits Broad Street Plumbing Access

Roughly 300 students living on Broad St. between West Kendrick Ave. and College St. lost water access twice last week, first when a water main broke in front of 94 Broad St. on Friday, Sept. 9, and again two days later when a main broke near 66 Broad St. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Both disruptions were announced by Joe Hernon — associate vice president for emergency management, campus safety, and environmental health and safety — in emails to the Colgate community. The Village of Hamilton initially notified the University of both breaks, and a boil water notice was not issued on either day.

Water service was restored by 6:15 p.m. on Friday, roughly seven hours after the break was announced. Sunday’s disruption was shorter; service was restored less than two hours later.

Hernon’s emails encouraged affected students to use Case Library, James C. Colgate Hall and the Reid Athletic Center for bathroom facilities, as well as Huntington Gymnasium for showers.

“As you see kind of cross-country, water infrastructure can be outdated, and so it does tend to break,” Hernon said on Friday afternoon. “This is might be one of those unfortunate cases but we don’t have a cause at this time.”

Senior Dassie Spivack, director of facility operations for 84 Broad St. (Delta Delta Delta), said she faced several inconveniences following Friday’s main break. After water that was already in the pipes before access was shut off ran out, residents of the Greek life house only had access to water stored in jugs.

“It was an issue of cleaning things up,” Spivack said. “In the beginning, we kind of forgot about it, so we were using regular plates but we couldn’t wash them, […] so we pretty quickly switched over to single-use paper plates and stuff like that.”

Delta Delta Delta shut down their in-house kitchen because they could not sanitize surfaces. The students also lost access to their bathroom water, forcing them to shower in the apartments and townhouses nearby.

“Luckily it turned back on around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.,” Spivack said, “but when it did turn back on it still wasn’t usable. It was still really brown, so it took another hour or so to even be usable after it turned back on.”

Elsa O’Brien, a sophomore living in the Creative Arts theme house on 100 Broad St., said that Sunday’s water main break posed the same issues as Friday’s.

“It’s basically identical [to Friday], I think,” O’Brien said. “I just really want an accessible, sustainable solution to all this. We all end up buying plastic water bottles when we get put in this position, especially since no one — including those repairing the break — knows how long the issue will last.”

This is not the first time Colgate students have been affected by water main breaks. A major water main on Broad St. broke in February which shut off water for Bryan Complex, 113 Broad Street and the townhouses and caused flooding. A boil water notice was also issued.

Hernon explained that although similar, the most recent water disruptions were not as severe. The broken pipe in February was older and one of the biggest in the Village, he said, and its break was caused by freezing temperatures combined with strong water pressure.

“I don’t have a cause for this one, but I do think it’s something we see, unfortunately, on the emergency preparedness side of the house cross-country, is these systems tend to go,” Hernon said, “so it’s on us to keep looking forward to being prepared to respond to them.”