An underground water line broke Saturday evening, flooding a large area on campus between South Hall and the Music Building. The cause of the break is unknown, and maintenance personnel do not expect to find any major damage.
UCSB Lead Plumber Daniel Marquez arrived on campus at 7:20 p.m. to stop water flowing from the pipe. He said the pipe most likely broke sometime around 7 that night and probably only caused minimal damage.
“From what I can tell, there is no real damage,” he said. “We won’t know why it broke until we dig it up later.”
While the amount of damage is unknown, the mess created by the water flow is substantial. Debris carried by the water is visible from the bike intersection at Davidson Library and flowed down the bikepath, sidewalk and stairs into Storke Plaza. The majority of the mess consists of pine needles, silt and puddles of standing water and is concentrated on the bikepath, sidewalks and lawns between Girvetz Hall and the Music Building. Stairs and shrubs kept the water and debris out of the halls of the Music Building and Girvetz Hall when several drains in the area became clogged.
“The whole area between South Hall and Music [Building] was completely under water,” Marquez said.
To stop the flow of water Marquez shut off all water in the Music Building for an indefinite period of time. Both the men’s and women’s restrooms remained open at press time, however the sinks and the toilets did not work. It is unknown when the bathrooms and drinking fountains in the Music Building will be functioning properly again. The water lines to Girvetz and South Hall are running properly.
Several students took advantage of the situation, frolicking in the large puddle created by the break until maintenance personnel arrived. Marquez said the water came from a potable water line and does not pose a threat to students. Another water line in the area, which did not rupture, carries reclaimed water for irrigation purposes.
Reclaimed water is recycled wastewater that is chemically treated to improve its quality. It can be used for irrigation and wetland restoration, but is unsafe to consume because it does not meet the same quality standards as drinking water.
Marquez said because the break in the water line was underground, the cause of the break would not be known until the pipe is removed from the ground and inspected. He expects to know the cause of the break on Tuesday.
– Stephanie Tavares