An early morning water main break under the Phyllis P. Marshall Center forced some food businesses and restrooms to close, as Student Health Services halted its medical assistance “until further notice.”
Tom Williamson, resident district manager of USF Dining Services, said he was notified about the water line problem early in the day, and as a result decided to close those businesses that require water for its food preparation.
Five food businesses, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Freshens, On Top of the Palms, Bene Pasta and Chik-Fil-A, closed due to the water pipe rupture Wednesday morning. At the same time, some employees from Dining Services volunteered to go home as some opted to stay and work scheduled hours elsewhere in the MC, Williamson said.
Those 10 employees who opted to stay were transferred to the Tampa Room food court where the few places that remained open: Montague’s Deli, Salad Garden and Sushi, expected a heavy flow of customers, Williamson said.
Those businesses that remained open at the Tampa Room throughout the water shortage were provided with portable handwashing facilities.
Joe Synovec, assistant director of the MC, said the pipeline that provides water for the building is also connected to the Bookstore’s water line as well as the Student Health Services’, shutting its water for a few hours.
“The MC was initially affected, then the water repair caused the Bookstore and the Health Services to be affected as well,” Synovec said.
Synovec added that although the cause of the waterline fracture was unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, he speculated that pressure or the settling of the foil around the pipe could have caused the rupture.
According to Synovec, the water at the MC will not be drinkable for at least two days and the employees will be provided bottled water, as they were throughout Wednesday.
“(The MC) needs to get a clearance from the Health Department before people could drink the water, so all water fountains will be closed and all the water used for food consumption should be boiled,” Synovec said. “Until (MC) gets a clean bill from the Health Department, the coolers (for employees) will be up and running.”
Human Resources could not specify on the exact number of employees affected by the water line rupture at the MC because its office could not confirm how many part-time and full-time employees were working specifically on Wednesday.
Sandy Conway, associate director of Human Resources, said at least 58 employees, such as physicians, doctors and staff members, that were affected at the Student Health Services building after it was shut down.
Grace McQueen, director of the Bookstore on campus run by Barnes & Noble, said her office was informed about the water crisis Wednesday morning between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. although the water was restored to the shop by noon.
The Bookstore closed its restrooms and asked customers not to drink from the water fountains, McQueen said.
“Around 30 employees were directed to use the restrooms at the Student Services building.” McQueen said.
MC employees were directed by Synovec to the restrooms in the Special Events Center Wednesday.
As for providing drinkable water accommodations for the Bookstore employees throughout the shortage, McQueen said that was always their priority.
“We provide water coolers for our employees all of the time,” she said.
According to Synovec, as of 2 p.m. water was restored to the Health Services building and as of 4 p..m. water was restored to the Marshall Center.