Facilities Services swamped with water problems

Anyone who has walked around on campus, or anywhere in Galesburg, for the past two weeks, has most likely at least suffered from cold feet and wet socks. Some spots on campus are virtual lakes that should only be crossed in galoshes. Then, when the temperature dips below freezing, icy patches collect on the sidewalk waiting for an unsuspecting person to slip and receive a face full of snow.

The weather changes often and Director of Facility Services Scott Maust is doing several things to keep campus as safe as possible. Last spring Wallace Lounge, along with several other buildings, flooded. Maust said the storm drains around Seymour Union and Seymour Library were checked and tree roots were found blocking the drains. The roots were removed and both those drains as well as others around the five-name dorms have been checked periodically.

“I think we got those areas fixed now,” said Maust. “Unfortunately, with the old system we have here, we find cracks.”

Maust said the problem comes from the ground temperature.

“The grass and stuff absorbs the moisture,” said Maust. “The problem is there is roughly 20 inches of frost on the ground.”

The ground does not absorb as much water when it is cold, so the water stays above ground and creates deep puddles in the places where the ground dips down.

“Until we can get enough warmth to pull the frost out of the ground, there isn’t much we can do about it,” said Maust. “Hopefully, it will warm up soon.”

Maust plans on continuing to update the drains over the summer.

Facilities Services also spreads salt and sand on the ice that forms on the sidewalks to ease the ice. There are also wooden boards over some of the walkways that are particularly wet and icy. Maust said workers also chip and scrape the ice.

“Snow melted and went on the sidewalks during the day and at night it froze,” said Maust. “It’s kind of a vicious cycle. We’ve been trying to be pretty aggressive.”

In terms of the county-wide water issues, students may have noticed the water coming out of their faucets and toilets on Friday was brown.

“[Galesburg] gets their water from Oquaka, Ill.,” said Maust. “It’s rust is what it is.”

Usually, the water pumps push sediments to the outside of the water pipes. Maust said rusty water often appears when fire hydrants are flushed.

“It is safe to drink,” said Maust. “It was a safe condition because they have to treat their water.”

Maust said that though the water was safe to drink and shower in students should not do their laundry during that time.

“It is your whites and stuff that could turn brown,” said Maust.

If students accidentally do their laundry, the damage is fixable if the laundry is left damp in the machine. The city will provide tablets to put into the laundry, which will take the rust color out.

Laura Miller

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