Water line bursts

IUS Horizon

Thomas Moore, assistant director of Physical Plant, shows the section of pipe that was drilled through and burst. The pipe burst closed down Life Sciences for one day while repairs were made.
Thomas Moore, assistant director of Physical Plant, shows the section of pipe that was drilled through and burst. The pipe burst closed down Life Sciences for one day while repairs were made.

A routine utility service job went awry Friday, Feb. 13, when a sub-contractor from Snedegar Construction Company accidentally punched a hole in the campus’ chilled water line with a molding machine.

Before digging, a utilities locator company marked all of the utility lines to ensure none of them were damaged. The utilities locator services are contracted through IU Bloomington’s Architect’s
Office.

“The Bloomington folks came down and marked the utilities,” Thomas Moore, assistant director of Physical Plant, said. “For reasons unknown at this point, which we are still trying to figure out, the water line that comes from the Life Science building and heads toward University Center South was only marked in sections; the whole line was not marked.”

Moore also said the campus has a chiller loop, which pushes cold water all over campus for the air conditioning systems.

“We had a blue flag out there where the chilled water line was, but it was off to the side by at least 20 to 30 feet, and I assume the contractor looked at the blue flag and thought it was for the water line when, in fact, it was the chilled water line,” Moore said.

Put simply, the water line was not properly marked by Bloomington’s utility services and the contractor hit it with his boring device. Moore said the contractor who was doing the boring felt some restriction and tried to stop immediately, but the water line had already been damaged.

“The part of the machine that does the digging was probably only three inches in diameter,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, at those pressures, the water exploded through the small hole like a volcano.”

Once the damage was assessed, the campuses crisis management team, made up of Chancellor Sandra Patterson-Randles, Gilbert Atnip, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dennis Simon, IUS Police chief, Bob Snip, director of Physical Plant and other administrators, made the decision to close the Life Sciences building due to fire
hazards from a lack of water going to the emergency sprinkler systems.

The sub-contractor was digging to replace one of the campus’s main electrical circuits, which had been in use since the early 1970s.

“In that circuit, there are multiple splices and it had caused power outages in the past,” Moore said.

Moore said splicing such circuits is common work in construction.

“You normally would splice the circuit, but over time, as you get more and more splices, you finally do replace it,” Moore said.

The circuit has yet to be replaced, but Moore said there is little danger of a campus wide power outage.

“We know that the circuit is not in optimum condition, which is why it’s on the to-do list, but we are not sweating a power outage; our system is a bit stronger than that,” Moore said.

Duke energy will begin work to replace the circuit by Monday Feb. 24.

By MICHAEL MARCELL
Staff Writer
mdmarcel@ius.edu