Backflow preventer fails in Brockway Hall

By Emily Janssen

Ripon College’s epidemic of water problems from over winter break continued when the backflow preventer on a pipe in Brockway Hall failed and caused some flooding.

The backflow preventer failed at approximately 5:45 pm on Monday, Jan. 19 and Junior David Firari was one of the people to first discover the leak. He said that, “myself and three other brothers of Theta Chi Fraternity entered Brockway on the Theta Chi side. I peeked around the first floor corner to see if anyone was around. It was then that I noticed water pooling around the mechanical door.”

“A backflow preventer on a water line feeding the hot water tanks failed and allowed water to flow in a mechanical room and out into the hallways, said Brian Skamra, director of the Ripon College Physical Plant. He explained that the backflow preventer is used to keep the water flowing forward through the pipes and avoid water flowing backwards and contaminating the drinkable water.

Firari and the others called their hall director and the members of Theta Chi began putting towels in front of their doors to keep the water out. “Nate (Ebert) was over in less than five minutes and opened up the mechanical room,” Firari said. “We could see water pouring from some source, possibly a broken pipe or valve, but it was hard to see…”

Firari explained that the Physical Plant arrived about 20 minutes after the hall director and quickly stopped the water. “Members of the cleaning staff were on site, using shop vacuums to suck up the water,” Firari said. “Two Theta Chis used the hallway as a Slip N’ Slide.”

“Fortunately no students were displaced during the event or clean up,” Resident Hall Director, Nate Ebert said, “but keys to empty rooms were ready to be distributed in the event that they needed to exit their rooms.”

“The only damage was a partially soaked rug from the room directly across from the mechanical room,” Firari said. “All in all, the Ripon staff was very quick in responding and addressing the issue.”

Following a series of water problems in campus buildings including Tri-Dorms, Anderson Hall and Storzer Athletic Center, administration are hopeful such problems are in the past. “I do hope no further water related incidents occur,” Ebert said, “but if they do both our residence life team and plant department team are ready to respond to any situation that may arise.”