Water Leaks Abound, But Campus Is Open

SOCORRO, N.M. February 4, 2011 -- New Mexico Tech administrators expect to reopen campus Monday for all business and classes. Campus crews will work over the weekend to clean up flooded buildings and keep the heat on.

Employees should be prepared for offices to be colder than usual Monday morning.

The university was closed for three days due to cold, snow, ice and utility outages. Beginning Thursday morning, Facilities Management crews and campus police began finding broken water pipes in various buildings around campus. As frozen pipes thaw, Facilities Management expects to continue to find more broken pipes. To report leaks, call campus police at 5434.

Both departments have been working virtually around the clock to ensure the safety and maintenance of the buildings and the grounds.

The building with the worst damage is Jones Hall, where four labs flooded after a domestic water line froze and broke.

Other buildings that experienced water leaks include the Skeen Library, MSEC, Jones Annex, Fitch Hall, Fidel Center, the Gold Building, the SAC and the Kelly Building (PRRC).

In addition to Jones Annex, the Gold Building, Jones Hall and MSEC suffered large leaks inside. The other buildings only had minor damage.

Not all buildings experienced water leaks; Brown Hall, Weir Hall, Cramer Hall, Speare Hall and most of the dorms did not experience broken pipes.

On Friday, the hot water loop, which provides heat to all campus buildings, suffered a ruptured line. TLC Plumbing, the contractor that is replacing the hot water loop, took the system off line for several hours Friday morning and afternoon to repair the break.

The statewide natural gas shortage caused the campus heating system to operate poorly, providing minimal heat to some of the dorms overnight Wednesday and Thursday. On-campus students were invited to stay in the Fidel Center ballroom Thursday night. About 100 students came to watch movies and use the Game Room, with about 30 spending the night in Fidel.

Gas pressure was stabilized Friday morning and the heating loop temperatures were within an acceptable range – until the line broke.

Vice President Lonnie Marquez said he was grateful for all the extra effort from employees of Facilities Management, campus police, Information Services Department (which monitors the fire alarms) and TLC Plumbing.