Water main break closes campus

A public safety officer guards Eldon Schafer Dr. // The Torch
A public safety officer guards Eldon Schafer Dr., one of the main roads leading onto Lane’s Main Campus, while the college was closed due to a water main failure was being repaired. Facilities, Planning and Management ordered that the campus be closed Thursday, March 24 due to a lack of water available to the fire suppression systems, according to an email from Jace Smith, Lane’s Public Safety Chief. The college was reopened Saturday evening, March 26, following completion of repairs to the water main and testing of emergency systems.

A large mainline pipe ruptured over spring break, closing Lane’s main campus for two days.

The six-inch pipe travels throughout the service tunnels underneath campus, and serves as the school’s main water pipeline. The break was noticed Thursday, March 24, at about 4 p.m. Water was immediately shut off, as the break could not be isolated and began flooding the service tunnels beneath the school.

“Notices were sent via the campus mass notification system, Lane Alert messaging and by all-staff email,” Joan Aschim, Public Information Officer, said. “It takes time to get the system back up and running and thoroughly tested once repairs have been completed, so the college remained closed Friday and Saturday.”

The mainline pipe provides water to the campus fire suppression system, so the rupture created a concern for the security of people working at the time.

“When it burst it started filling up the tunnels with water and we weren’t quite able to isolate the water system so that we could turn off the water that went to that pipe,” Jennifer Hayward, Interim Associate Director of  Facilities, said. “EWEB ended up turning off the water for the whole campus. Without drinking water and water that feeds our water suppression systems it wouldn’t have been safe to have people on campus.”

At publication time, all the issues related to the water mainline have been fixed and there are no reports of further risks to the system.

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Miguel Sanchez-Rutledge