The academic side of campus at RPI was hit with multiple water issues on Thursday, January 23. Sometime in the previous overnight hours, an initially unknown source of water began spewing from the ground in the open area between the rear entrance of Darrin Communications Center and the front entrance of the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center. The water flooded this area, before freezing and forming a layer of ice due to the extremely low temperature.
The issue was then reported to Physical Plant at 7:10 am on Thursday. They began to investigate the affected area for the source of the leak. The problem was found to be caused by a break in the domestic water main. The broken line directly serviced a fire hydrant in front of the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center and was a six-inch diameter branch off of the main line that serves many surrounding buildings, including the Darrin Communications Center, The Jonsson-Rowland Science Center, and the Jonsson Engineering Center.
The Physical Plant mechanical shop was able to isolate the issue using a shut-off valve, and therefore avoided affecting water service for buildings that use the main line. The division of Environmental and Site Services then removed the ice around the area and dug up the earth covering the broken pipe. At 3:10 pm, the specific section of damaged pipe was located. While the section of pipe was repaired, all water service to the previously mentioned buildings on the main line was shut off. Physical Plant was able to do the repair in a very timely manner, allowing for water service to be restored at 3:25 pm. The timing was planned to avoid interfering with research and classes.
The pipe is believed to have burst due to the ground shifting brought on by the extremely low temperatures experienced in the days prior to the incident.
Many students reported additional water issues in DCC that continued into the evening hours on Thursday and continuing into early Friday morning. These were caused by a malfunctioning back flow preventer which led to little or no water pressure in DCC. The issue was completely unrelated to the burst pipe. It led to backed up restroom facilities and other water related issues for the building. The issue was not reported to Physical Plant until 7:00 am on Friday, when workers for Jazzman’s Bakery and Café arrived.