A construction blunder was to blame for a water main breach that resulted in the partial flooding of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center basement and left two University buildings without water Monday.
“What happened was, a construction worker, as part of the demolition of the Special Events Center, was taking down part of the retaining wall on the west side of the (SEC) building,” said Joe Synovec, assistant director for the Marshall Center. “His tractor dug into the ground and broke a water main.”
Once the water main was broken at about 8:30 a.m. more than two feet of water flowed down Cedar Circle and collected outside the dock on the west side of the Marshall Center, Synovec said.
“Unfortunately, when it got down to the dock there was only one area for the water to go,” he said. “It probably took them a half an hour to 45 minutes before they could cap the line.”
Water traveling through the line remained off throughout the day, leaving buildings Theater I and II without running water for drinking or restroom use.
“We all had to run next door to the dance building to use their facilities,” said Mae McDonald, office manager for the School of Theater and Dance. “For sanitation problems, it was very much an inconvenience. We have no facilities for use, you can’t flush, you can’t wash your hands, you can’t do anything. There’s definitely a health hazard here.”
The Marshall Center’s game room – which contains several pool tables and leather couches – the offices of Greek Life and Volunteer USF, two meeting rooms and a graduate student lounge were flooded by at least 3 inches of standing water. The flood also affected the WBUL radio station, storage for light and sound equipment, and a maintenance workshop.
The SG computer lab and some administrative offices were spared.”We were able to isolate the water from getting into the main lobby and everything to the east,” Synovec said.
About 25 Marshall Center staff members and others from Residence Services and the Physical Plant assisted in the cleanup. Crews used at least 12 wet/dry vacuums and about 3 carpet extractors to suction up the water.
“I must have sucked up 20-25 containers’ worth (with the dry vac), and I was just one of 12 others,” Synovec said.
A disaster relief team took over cleanup efforts at about 2 p.m.According to Synovec, the relief crew was working on getting all the water out of the carpet as well as replacing the molding closest to the floor. Crew members also spread mold sanitizer on the carpet.
Synovec was unsure when the area would be reopen, saying it could take anywhere from two to seven days for the basement to dry completely.
The offices of Greek Life and Volunteer USF will be relocated to other conference or meeting rooms, he said, and the WBUL radio station won’t be back on the air until the cleanup is finished.
“It’s really disappointing because all of our live shows were supposed to start (Monday), now we’re probably going to be pushed back for sometime next week,” said Jake Tremper, station manager for the WBUL.
According to Ron Hanke, director of Facilities Planning, water service for restrooms in both Theater buildings should be available for use Tuesday afternoon. Drinking water would probably not be restored until sometime on or after Thursday when a county sanitation test is completed, Hanke said.
“Before the water can be turned back on, it will have to go through some chlorination,” he said.
In the meantime, the construction company Beck will be required to supply those buildings with bottled water.
“We don’t have the exact details of what happened,” Hanke said. “It’s just one of those unfortunate construction mishaps. (Beck) will be responsible for repairing all the damage and the cost of that.”