News Brief: Trinity’s water system

Last semester and over the summer, there have been water outages throughout residential halls.

According to Jim Baker, senior director of Facilities Services, these water outages are generally due to the way buildings on campus are built.

“For example, Thomas Hall … the water line runs straight up the building and then turns and feeds all the bathrooms,” Baker said. “So if I’m working on the shower in 401, and I need to turn the water off to replace the shower cartridge, those particular showers don’t have a way of turning the water off at the shower valve, so I have to turn the water off to remove the cartridge, or I’ll flood the room. Some of the riser valves down on the mainline are inaccessible, so if we end up turning the water off of the whole building to change one part of a shower.”

The pipe system is up-to-date, but it’s hard to tell when certain pipes in buildings need to be replaced.

“We’re up-to-date on our pipe integrity research. We replaced most of the backbone, probably in 2010. But especially in a specific building, it’s all visual. So when you look at a pipe from the outside, while it looks great, what you can’t really see with a naked eye is what’s going on in the pipe,” Baker said.

Facilities services performs residence halls remodels about every 20 years which, in turn, keeps the piping system up-to-date.

“They do have scans that we can perform, but generally the building undergoes a remodel that replaces that pipe before it gets to that condition. We’re on a replacement cycle that way far exceeds the limitations of the piping,” Baker said.

Additional reporting by Kathleen Creedon