As previously reported by the East Tennessean, a water pipe burst in front of Governor’s Hall on Monday, Jan. 16, with repairs completed by the next day.
ETSU Vice President for Finance and Administration David Collins said that, while it can’t be known for certain that the cold weather was the cause of the burst pipe, it is the most likely reason.
“It’s going to occur, and you just have to deal with it as it comes,” he said of the issue. Collins estimates that around one or two pipes burst on campus every year.
While most burst pipes don’t take long to fix or cause much disruption in students’ daily lives, this pipe took slightly longer than normal. Upon fixing one leak, it was discovered that there was a second, which may or may not have occurred during the repair of the first. Most pipe bursts are minor, with this one an unusual exception.
Standard practice for burst pipes involves shutting off the water at the nearest valve so as not to allow further leakage, which prevents the water bill from rising and fixes the problem immediately.
One of ETSU’s requests for capital maintenance funding from the state is several million dollars to replace some of the older, cast iron pipes on campus and install a better valve system. The valve system would allow the water to be cut off in more places so that fewer buildings would go without in the event of another pipe burst.
However, according to Collins, the state usually only funds the top priority, and fixing the pipe system is only fourth or fifth in line on the budget requests for state funding, with safety and structural repairs being the first priority.
Since water pipes don’t burst often, and they aren’t a safety issue, it may be some time before they’re replaced and a new valve system is installed.
“Anything that has to do with safety or structure … is going to be a much higher priority than a water pipe breaking,” Collins said.