Last Monday at noon, an email was sent out to students warning that the Health and Counseling Center would be closed for the rest of the afternoon. The office was forced to temporarily shut down operations because of damage to a sewage ejector pump. This event comes as the memories of the flooding in Tower Hall this semester and Firestine Hall last year are still fresh in student’s minds.
The flooding occurred in the basement of Shouvlin as the result of damage to a piece of PVC pluming that connected to a sewage ejector pump. Director of Physical Plant John Paulsen reported that the incident should not be considered a flood. Only a few inches of water were in the mechanical room in the basement of Shouvlin, which leaked into the hallway, near the area around the stairs. Though it traveled down the hallway, the leaked water did not reach the Health Center.
“The repair was completed within an hour or so of our being notified and the cleanup was not difficult and was completed around noon,” said Paulsen.
Dr. Kathryn McKee, the Health Center’s M.D., reported that she was more concerned about students slipping in the water than damage caused to the Health Center. Physical Plant assured McKee that the water on the floor was not a health concern and was perfectly safe to students. Though there is a history of water damage in the Health Center, this incident did not cause any harm to paperwork on equipment.
Although the closure of the Health Center occurred in the height of flu season, McKee reports that she has not received any complaints from students about a disturbance. As the majority of the Health Center’s appointments occur in the morning, the Health Center was able to avoid any major inconveniences. McKee expressed relief that the damage had been discovered quickly, in the middle of the day, so that the situation did not escalate any farther.
“We just decided to close because we didn’t want kids stepping in it,” said McKee, “especially sick kids and those with other problems.”
According to Physical Plant, this incident was the result of completely causes that affected Tower and Firestine. While Tower Hall’s freeze was caused by the freezing of a pipe and the flooding in Firestine Hall was due to a filed connection, the incident in the basement of Shouvlin was caused by damage to the sewage ejection system. Physical Plant insists that they have taken precautions to prevent problems such as these from occurring in the future.
“The type of fitting that failed in Firestine was also used in Carnegie Hall,” said Paulson. “The one in Carnegie was replaced soon after we had the problem in Firestine. We do not have a similar situation like that in Shouvlin elsewhere on campus.”
Dave Clark, plumbing foreman for Physical Plant reported that he had not seen a PVC fitting fail in this way in over 40 years. The Health and Counseling Center was able to open on time the morning after the incident and has expressed no other issues with their operations.