A Facebook post featuring video footage and photos of an open, corroded pipe leaking dirty water into a student’s shower in Juda Hall received 9,217 views and 38 shares last week.
“Conditions at MoWo,” April Smith wrote in a Facebook post about her friend’s housing situation. “My sorority sisters shouldn’t have to deal with not taking a shower in their own room. The Water from the upstairs shower is pouring out and flooding downstairs.”
According to the post, the old pipes were allegedly exposed for an entire week but Western staff claims the pipes were actually exposed for a shorter amount of time.
“They [maintenance] tore the wall out on Monday, let it dry for a day and then replaced it on the 21st. It was a pretty short timeframe when the pipes were exposed like that,” Residential Hall Director Nathan Roberts said.
However, students and parents were outraged by the situation and turned to social media to express their concerns.
Susan Steinbach, the mother of the student living in the dorm room, voiced her concerns on the social media post.
“The handling of this situation has not been very impressive at this point,” Steinbach wrote, “[…] I don’t want excuses and platitudes from MWSU, I want fast action and the problem fixed.”
She also said the water was pouring into the student’s shower all week and questioned Western’s methods and decision to keep the water line running for that particular pipe.
“I’m curious, how does one FIX a water leak without shutting off the water to do so? I was told last Friday that it would take up to one week to fix. This problem started last Tuesday. It’s absolutely ridiculous that it took FOUR days to even get that much figured out,” Steinbach wrote.
Roberts said one of the issues was that leak was coming from a drainage pipe shared by eight bathrooms located on the floor above the shower shown in the Facebook post. Rather than moving everyone in the rooms above, maintenance decided it would be easier to offer the student below another bathroom to use until the situation was fixed. Roberts claimed that situations like this one, which involved old plumbing installed in buildings decades ago, require patience from those involved.
“You can’t tear out a wall, and immediately fix something in a couple of hours. It takes time,” Roberts said.
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, seven days before the Facebook post surfaced, maintenance received a complaint with a description that involved water backing up in multiple rooms in Juda Hall.
“There was also a report of a leak, but they thought it was associated with the water backing up and had just overflowed, so over the next day or two they went through a process of trying to fix little things that they thought were the problem like caulking the bottom of the tub, which is usually the first step,” Roberts said.
However, after trial and error, maintenance determined that the source of the leak was from a corroded pipe above the student’s shower. At this point, they realized they had no choice but to replace the pipes.
“So when people above were taking a shower it was leaking behind the shower, in between the wall and shower and onto the floor, but most of the water was leaking directly into the shower,” Roberts said.
The bathroom that was suffering water damage from the eight showers above is currently being used by one student who also shares a suit with two others. In Juda Hall, a suite contains four rooms that are connected by a main living area. Two bedrooms on each side of the living room are connected by one bathroom for two students to share.
“We offered to move the student to a completely different room, so she could use a shower, but that student chose not to. They just wanted to go across the hall and use the bathroom with her sorority sisters.”
Juda Hall was built decades ago and plumbing problems are not a new complaint from residence hall inhabitants, Roberts said. Complaints of rotten egg odor, backed up drains and more have been reported over the years.
“These are the oldest buildings we have now. We closed logan because it was getting to the point where maintenance was an expensive thing. The long-term goal is to replace these buildings with newer buildings,” Roberts said.
In order to help prevent further issues with plumbing in Juda, Roberts recommended to avoid pouring any corrosive materials down the drains and to report any emergency issues associated with electricity, water or safety.
Roberts also recommended discussing issues face to face with maintenance or staff who can help the situation rather than posting anything that sheds a negative light on the school they attend or the faculty involved and fact check before posting.
“Be careful about those comments unless they know they are completely accurate and if they are accurate what good does that do? What’s the positive result of that? Didn’t’ get anything done any faster, it just makes everyone look bad,” Roberts said.
All students involved with the situation declined to comment.