University of Maryland has had to deal with several water main breaks recently that have left many dorms ravaged with water damage and led to serious water shortages this semester.
With the costs rising, the school's facilities management department says it is planning to prevent such disasters from occurring again by implementing preventative maintenance programs throughout campus and beginning a large overhaul of the university's aged piping system.
According to the University Diamondback, facilities workers say they will keep in place all existing water main maintenance functions, which includes exercising valves, keeping a close watch of water meter readings and clamping aging pipes if they see it as necessary. The department says it will also need to replace a massive heating main that stretches from the school's Morrill Hall to LeFrak Hall, plans for which have already begun. Several issues have been reported with the pipes that transport water from Marie Mount Hall to Tydings Hall also, said Jack Baker, director of facilities management operations and campus maintenance.
"We are always monitoring all water lines and tracking where specific breaks are," Capital projects Director Bill Olen said. "We’ve been having some problems with [North and South Campus,] and replacing the pipes is the best way to deal with it."
In the most recent major maintenance project, the school completed work on a 100-year-old water main on the south side of campus that stretched under a large portion of the university. According to Carlo Colella, associate vice president of facilities management, the project is a strong example of the commitment the school has made to its piping infrastructure in order to prevent future water outages from occurring.
"These pipes that we replaced were some of the oldest on campus; they were extremely brittle, and any changes caused them to crack," Olen said. "Hopefully, in the future, we’ll have less breaks because we’ll have more secure water lines."
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, piping renovation often exposes workers to trenching dangers. Protection against these hazards is highly regulated by OSHA, and failure to comply can lead to asset downtime and soaring costs.
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