Campus / News / January 23, 2009

Failure in water line leads to systems shutdown

A failure in the chilled water line in the basement of the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center caused a flood that reached key equipment in the computer center early this morning. The staff was forced to shut down all systems contained in the basement at 9:30 a.m., including services that manage Internet access, TV, and local servers like NAS.

The flood was precipitated by a loud “bang,” followed by a rush of water from the line that Computer Center Secretary Nancy Legate described as a “roar”. Fellow employee Debbie Marty shared an exchange between herself and Legate that followed the discovery of the impending flood:

“She said ’It’s coming!’ and I said ‘What’s coming?’. She yelled back ‘It’s a river!’”

According to heating plant Foreman Sherman Kelley, the rubber vibration eliminator on the pipe burst, likely failing due to old age. With no drain in the floor of the computer center, standing water quickly accumulated.

“First thing, we shut the power off,” said Computer Center Director Steve Jones, “when you have standing water and 220 volts it is not considered a good thing.”

Not only was the water reaching electrical outlets, network and some power lines also run under the tiles of the floor.

Computer Center staff members attempted to stem the tide while facilities was en route by building dikes with stacks of 8.5 x 11 paper.

“Facilities was here as fast as humanly possible,” said Jones. He emphasized their quick response and the effort they put into the clean up. By 11 a.m. most of the affected areas were dry and no standing water remained.

According to Jones the potential damages are unknown, although currently the only cost he expects is the reams of paper used to build the dike.

Jones estimates that systems will be back online by about 1p.m. today.

Matt Baker

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