Water main break causes problems on campus


Photo: Katerina Sarandou

The sidewalk across Chatham University’s campus was unusually slippery on Monday, February 3, as water from a broken water main caused large patches of ice to form.

Facilities sent out an email warning students of the icy conditions on Monday evening, and on Tuesday, after shutting the water off to a large portion of the campus, it was determined that the break was in between Dilworth Hall and the Carriage House.

Photo: Katerina Sarandou
Photo: Katerina Sarandou

“The break was located under the newly installed concrete walkway, so a portion of the walkway had to be removed,” said Robert DuBray, Director of Facilities Management & Public Safety, in an email to the student body on Thursday morning.

“The break was repaired by midnight,” he continued, “and all water was restored.”

In addition to tearing up the sidewalk, the repair required contractors to dig a large hole in the ground to access the water main, necessitating the use of caution tape to block off a busy section of the walkway.

Photo: Katerina Sarandou
Photo: Katerina Sarandou

As a result students had to find alternate ways to get to class, and many forged their own paths through the snow.

“It was just annoying,” said junior Kyara Francis. “Chatham’s campus already gets icy and…slippery. Then, there was water on top of this walkway that likes to become an ice-skating rink in the winter,” she said of the conditions on Monday.

“Then it was like ‘or tread in the mud,’ which is just as appealing an option,” she continued sarcastically.

The situation was especially difficult for the employees of Parkhurst Dining Services, who have to drive a golf cart on the path to carry food between Anderson Dining Hall and Café Rachel.

“Because we can’t get up the path, or down it, I have to drive the golf cart down the steps, all the way around the main road, and back to Anderson,” said Christina Mongelli, a junior and an employee at Café Rachel.

She continued, “Then we have to come all the way back, and in doing that we have to carry all of our supplies up the stairs, so it takes forever.”

When asked about the issue, Brad Haughey of John Haughey & Sons Plumbing, reiterated DuBray’s promised that the hole would be filled in quickly and that a temporary sidewalk would be put in place, “until better weather.”

Chris Bailey of C.A. Bailey Excavating & Hauling agreed, saying that students would be able to use the sidewalk again, “by the end of today [Thursday].”

“Tomorrow we’ll be hauling away the excess piles of dirt,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, by 2:00pm on Thursday, the sidewalk was filled in and the caution tape mostly removed.

Photo: Katerina Sarandou
Photo: Katerina Sarandou

Students were impressed by the quick work.

As Francis said, “they worked on it pretty quickly, especially in the dead of winter.”

When asked if students should be wary of anything regarding the temporary sidewalk Bailey jokingly replied, “muggers and burglars,” before getting serious and adding, “it might be frozen or icy, so be careful.”

Though the sidewalk is now back up and running, the ordeal raised some concerns among the student body–not about the large hole in the ground–but about whether or not school should have even been in session on Tuesday, February 3, considering the lack of running water in several of the campus facilities.

“We shouldn’t have had school yesterday,” one student said on Wednesday. “It was a health code violation.”

When asked about this claim, DuBray replied, “There was no health code violation.  Once the water was shut off in Anderson we provided fresh water to Parkhurst to last for two full days, until the repair was made, and more if needed.”