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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

West campus water incidents unrelated

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Twice in the last two weeks, Carleton experienced major malfunctions in its campus water service. On Thursday, January 21, Denise Gillen sent an all-campus email reporting a “valve malfunction on the campus water softener,” and two days later Wayne Eisenhuth of security alerted students of a “water emergency on the West side of campus.”

The first malfunction resulted in “salt water being released into the drinking water system” and affected the taste of drinking water. In the latter case, a cracked water main shut down water service to the Libe and Leighton Hall and led to an early closure of Sayles café and Burton dining hall. According to some student reports, this caused low water pressure in the complex.

In addition to these two larger malfunctions, last week several toilets in the Burton Hall were described as “infinitely flushing.” In at least one case the renegade toilet flushed for 25 minutes straight, despite attempts by the RAs on Duty to regain control of the situation.

This series of unfortunate water malfunctions have led some students to wonder if they can expect more of the same in the near future. Mitch Miller, Maintenance Manager, doesn’t think so. “The water issues of the past two weeks are a coincidence and not related in any way.” Miller admitted that cracks and breaks do happen, however, and there is always the risk for another.

“But we haven’t had one for several years and there is no reason to believe there will be another one soon.” He then added, “now that I’ve said that it will break next week.”

While in each case the problem was quickly remedied, students did experience mild inconveniences as they waited for repairs. According to one student, “I drank like a whole bottle of that salty water and it tasted weird… so then I got another bottle and it tasted the same so I just thought, ‘whelp, I guess that’s just how water tastes.’ ”

“My first thought was Flint, Michigan,” said another anonymous student, referencing the city in crisis that has made headlines in recent weeks for its notoriously dirty water. “They wouldn’t let me drink the water in the Burton dining hall, but by then I was really curious so I went upstairs to try it. It was salty and gross.”

Upon hearing the stories of anonymous students one and two, a third anonymous student responded incredulously, “Why did you drink the water?!”

And the over-zealous toilets of Burton? Miller doesn’t think they were related to the water main leak – although the leak did cause a similar problem in Leighton. “A leak lowers the pressure on the lines and doesn’t allow the flush valves to work properly. There are a number of cases for the valves to stick which was what likely happened in Burton.”

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