A leaky pipeline caused the Student Recreation and Wellness Center to close and also resulted in water shutoffs to multiple buildings on Sunday, Dec.3.
Facilities management employees noticed the leak last Wednesday, said Corey Ruff, executive director of facilities and campus management.
After the leak was discovered near the SRWC, crews began digging under the soil to make repairs. But crews hit a domestic water line Sunday morning, Ruff said, and they had to turn off the drinking and potable water to Gardner Hall, the Campus Center, Moody Coliseum, the SRWC and the Onstead Packer Biblical Studies and Mabee Business buildings. The crew was able to turn the potable water on again within a few hours.
“Res halls are our biggest priority,” Ruff said. “Contractors worked 14-hour days and our staff was up here throughout the weekend.”
The pipe that leaked, called the loopline, runs five miles around campus and has provided water heating and cooling for all buildings on campus since 2010. Ruff said the water system, which cost $5 million to install, saves energy needed to heat and cool 2.3 million square feet of facilities on campus.
The water gets heated or cooled in the central plant, located between the business building and the Bible building. The water then travels through the loopline to each individual building where it heats or cools the air behind fans that circulate air to the rest of the building. The loopline should last for 20-30 years, but this pipe began leaking after just 10 years. Ruff said he attributes the leak to ground movement over time or poor insulation.
“There’s not necessarily anyone that was at fault,” Ruff said. “It’s a mechanical system, things are gonna fail prematurely. You just never know with equipment.”
The loopline that leaked affects the temperature in 1.8 million square feet of facilities, including the SRWC and Moody Coliseum. Because of the leak, the air conditioner did not work on Sunday and Monday. Ruff said Moody was a little warm during the Sunday basketball games and the SRWC closed for the day on Sunday.
Contractors have finished repairing the pipes and are now working to pour concrete and replace the soil on top of the pipes. Ruff said the repairs will be complete in the next two weeks.