Burst water pipe gives employees surprise leave

Than Tibbetts

A water pipe break Wednesday in the West Bank Office Building sent hundreds of gallons of water spilling onto the building’s sixth floor.

The break also sent hundreds of University workers home with an unexpected day off.

A large pipe broke, spilling water onto the sixth floor at 250 gallons per minute, knocking out power and causing electrical problems to portions of the building, officials cleaning up the water said.

The break occurred at approximately 5 a.m. By 9 a.m., the only physical signs of the incident in the dark offices were the smell of damp carpet and the squish of water underfoot in the affected areas. The cleanup crews were busy vacuuming and had set up fans to help the water evaporate.

Steve Spehn, associate vice president of Facilities Management, said standing water on the sixth floor destroyed some electrical wiring and shorted out the power to the south side of the building.

He said that power will be returned by today.

The sixth floor is home to Disbursement Services, which handles payments to University suppliers and Central Computing Operations, a group within the Office of Information Technology.

On the sixth floor, office manager Diane Suski placed boxes on chairs in her cubicle as she expressed concern

over the warm and wet conditions. Other employees also worried whether the carpet would have to be torn up and replaced.

Security guard Peter Voves informed employees entering the building that they should head home. He said one worker told him it was the first time in 10 years that she wasn’t able to come to work.

Jamie VanGeest and Devon Sykes contributed to this report.