Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Almost three months after a water main break in Park-Stradley Hall the lasting effects on the university have not been fully calculated.
Lindsay Komlanc, Administration and Planning spokeswoman, provided new details about the events surrounding the water main break, but the cost of the break and subsequent repairs remains unknown.
A 10-inch water main broke in a utility tunnel underneath College Road, near Drinko and Steeb halls early in the evening of Sept. 16 and led to the evacuation of 2,000 students from Park-Stradley and Baker East and West halls. Aside from time allotted to pick up some select items from their rooms, Park-Stradley residents were unable to return to their building for three nights. Baker Hall residents were able to return the following morning. The Ohio Union was evacuated that night, but was reopened the following morning as well.
Service2Facilities, a campus entity that handles maintenance requests, became aware of the problem when high water levels in a sump in Park-Stradley Hall triggered an alarm. Sumps collect water, and the high water level was indicative of a sump pump problem or a leak. The alarm was noticed at about 8:30 p.m., according to former university spokesman Jim Lynch in an email to The Lantern that night.
“S2F (Service2Facilities) sent Student Life facilities personnel to check the situation. Student Life discovered the water was coming from the utility tunnel, and called (Facilities Operations and Development) maintenance and utility teams to further investigate and shut off the water,” said Komlanc in an email to The Lantern.
The broken section of pipe was isolated from the system, but the damage was already done.
Water had entered the sub-basement of Park-Stradley Hall, impacting the utility rooms, including electrical equipment. Park-Stradley, Baker East and West halls and the Union were evacuated and closed as a result of the leakage at about 9 p.m.
While students spent the night wherever they could – the RPAC, friends’ dorms, home – university personnel worked to fix the damage.
“By 2 a.m. on Sept. 17, crews had determined that the damage was confined to the underground utility (and) mechanical rooms and were able to bypass the water main break and return water service to Park-Stradley Hall,” Komlanc said.
Students were allowed to return to Baker East and Baker West at 7 a.m. on Sept. 17, with water returning shortly afterwards. However, students were not permitted to stay in Park-Stradley.
“It was water damage in the mechanical rooms that delayed the return of students to the residence hall,” Komlanc said. “The water damage impacted electrical and heating/cooling infrastructure, including electrical switch gear and heating (and) cooling equipment.”
A major repair was a replacement circuit breaker, brought in from the Wexner Medical Center Expansion Project.
“That project team had an identical piece of equipment, so we used it in Park-Stradley and provided a replacement for the Medical Center Expansion Project when it came in. This allowed us to move forward with as little delay as possible for students,” Komlanc said.
Necessary repairs were completed on Sept. 18.
Inspections were followed by approvals from the state on the afternoon of Sept. 19, and students were allowed to move back in that evening. Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, sent an email to Park-Stradley residents at about 5 p.m. informing them of the news.
Being able to move back in was “like a sigh of relief,” said to Brandon Kalnasy, Park-Stradley resident and second-year in mathematics. “It was kind of chaotic that whole couple of days, definitely relieved some of the stress of not having a place to live. The first night I was at a friend’s house, and then I actually went home. I live like 15 minutes away, so I went home and drove down here for class. Could’ve been worse.”