Water leak shuts down heating system on campus

Construction workers excavate the hot water piping system near Central Plant. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lynn Wiegers

A water main leak  affecting the entire campus heating system was discovered Tuesday.

Lynn Wiegers, executive director for physical plant management (PPM), said there will not be any heat in the buildings and no hot water in the Sierra Hall restrooms.

Wiegers said the leak started a couple of weeks ago, but PPM had trouble locating it because the water had not yet come. As soon as the water came up, they were able to locate it and start work Tuesday morning.

Since the leak is located near the east side of the Central Plant off of Plummer Street, there is no way to fix it except for shutting down the whole system. Wiegers said there have been leaks before, but not near the central plant.

Wiegers said Sierra Hall is affected because PPM converted the building to a heat exchanger a year ago to maximize the unused hot water that is used to heat the buildings.

Luckily, the weather forecast calls for a warm spell, but cooling at night may mean chilly buildings in the morning. Wiegers said body heat from students in the buildings should help take care of the problem.

He added that PPM has advised the campus that the leak may take up to five days to fix, but they are hoping to do it more quickly as long as the weather cooperates.

“All the guys here take it very seriously,” Wiegers said.  “They will work hard to get it done.”

He added work needs to be done very carefully near the leak due to a nearby gas line and high-voltage electricity.

“It’s very important to be careful to protect state property, staff and any students and faculty that may be nearby,” Wiegers said.