Water pipe bursts in McInnis Auditorium

Deep in the musical pit of McInnis Auditorium was a swirling, bubbling cauldron of mysterious water. Actors rehearsing for the fall play Measure for Measure found that the stage had flooded.

The mysterious water led to the discovery that a pipe that had burst at some point in the last twenty years, though no one knows actually when it started leaking.

“We have no idea how long that thing was leaking,” Rob Smith, director of campus services, said.

“We will never know, because the first 100 feet of the property is a slab of stone,” he said.

The swirl in the water indicated that it was pressurized water which had to come from a pipe of some sort.

According to Smith, there are only two pipes which run beneath the auditorium – a sewer pipe and a storm pipe. Neither of these carry clean water, the knowledge of which led Plant Operations to search within the radius of the auditorium.

It took days, and they even called in an outside contractor, who was of no help to them. Finally, the building was locked down over night, and everything shut off.

Glenn Hadley, director of facilities, and Bill Mayo, mechanic, took on the graveyard shift. They worked all night long in pursuit of the leak’s origin.

According to Smith, it was 7 a.m. when the two men announced the discovery of the leak. It was found 105 feet from the pit where the water was first spotted, the deepest visible point on the property. The leak was in the univentilator in the southwest stairwell of the building, a major part of the heating system.

“Thank God it was clean water,” said Smith. The fact that the water was clean not only helped to identify the leak, but it also saved a lot of time, effort and money. Had the water been sewage water, the damage done would have required a tremendous amount of labor and finances to replace flooring, pipes and other institutional structures.

While being fixed, the heat had to be shut off to the south side of the building for a couple of days. So far, the burst has required “over 200 labor hours, and it hasn’t even been fixed yet,” Smith said.

Plant Operations plans to completely fix the heating systems on both the south and north sides of the property. Although there is no apparent problem with the north side, the crew would rather be safe than sorry.

“We’re going to be proactive, take the time and do both,” Smith said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience with this situation.”

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