Water main break cuts off water to north end of campus

Many on-campus residents got an unpleasant surprise after an early-morning water main break left the North side of campus without water for much of the day on Thursday, Oct. 11.

The break occurred at about 2:30 a.m. and was located just west of Steuben Hall. Genesee, Ontario, Wyoming, Allegany, Putnam and Monroe Halls, as well as Letchworth Dining Hall, were left without water. The exact cause of the problem remains undetermined, but was likely tied to the old age of Geneseo's pipe system.

"Pressure fluctuations in the supply line along with age and condition of the pipe probably contributed to the break," said Steve Benchik, associate director of Facilities Services. "It should be noted that the Village also experienced a water main break about the same time. Whatever the cause, it affected the entire area."

By 12 p.m., water was restored to Letchworth Dining Hall in addition to Genesee and Wyoming Halls. The remainder of the buildings had water again by 6 p.m.

Residents of the buildings that did not obtain water until 6 p.m. on Thursday were forced to find alternatives to their usual routines. Junior Shannon Seyboth, a resident of Putnam, had to skip her usual morning shower due to the break.

"It made me rethink how much I actually take for granted," she said. "Running water is a necessity and I didn't realize how important it really was until I couldn't use it: brush my teeth, shower, wash my hands, etc. I was pretty ecstatic when it finally came back on!"

Some students sought help from friends when they discovered their situation that morning. Sophomore Kelly Zwiebel had people knocking on her door in Steuben at 9 a.m. hoping to use a shower, while others weren't so creative. "Everyone smelled that day," said sophomore Mark Sperrazza.

Water main breaks like the one experienced last week are a fairly common occurrence at Geneseo. "We experience approximately two breaks a year," Benchik explained. "Most of our water system is over 40 years old, however we have been replacing large sections of piping as time and money become available."

Benchik also stated there was nothing students could do to prevent such occurrences. As the College continuously updates the campus with the major construction projects planned in upcoming years, water problems are likely to occur less frequently.

For the most part, students were understanding about the problem. "I think the College's response to the water main break was impressive considering the fact that such a problem could not really be predicted," said Danielle Forrest, a senior RA in Ontario Hall. "The buildings that were affected by the water main break had water again within 24 hours of the break."

Facilities Services asks for students' patience during water main breaks. "All water main breaks are treated as emergencies and are not easy or quick repairs," Benchik said. "We understand the inconvenience of being without water and appreciate your patience as we work to restore the water service back to normal."