Waterfield and Regents face flooding

Nahiomy Gallardo/The News Waterfield Library staff clean up water after pipes overflow in the basement.

Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer

Nahiomy Gallardo/The News Waterfield Library staff clean up water after pipes overflow in the basement.

Nahiomy Gallardo/The News
Waterfield Library staff clean up water after pipes overflow in the basement.

Throughout the semester, plumbing problems have flooded the Waterfield Library basement and the third and fourth floor of Regents Residential College because of the heating and cooling systems.

As Facilities Management transitioned buildings on campus from the winter heating systems to the spring cooling systems, the basement of Waterfield flooded as the drainage pipes overflowed from the mechanical room, said Ashley Ireland, dean of university libraries. 

As well, Regents has had leaks due to valve failures in the cooling system pipes, said David Burdette, interim chief facilities officer.

Two of these events happened back to back, Regents flooding on April 14 and Waterfield on April 15, but Burdette said they are not related.

“We had two very individual actions,” Burdette said.


Burdette said the Waterfield flooding on April 15 was due to drainage pipes overflowing.

During the annual transition from heating to cooling, Facilities Management fills individual building coils, cooling towers and the Central heating and cooling plant chillers with water in order to bring cooling systems online. It was during this process that the drainage pipes in the mechanical room flooded the basement of Waterfield.

This isn’t a common occurrence, Burdette said, and he said he couldn’t remember it ever happening before. Facilities Management easily dealt with it and began cleanup immediately after addressing the problem.

“I have worked here for eight years, and this is the first time something like this has occurred in that time,” Ireland said. 

Ireland said a library employee noticed it and about 15 library employees responded to the situation immediately. Facilities Management was there within minutes of being notified.

Ireland said the plumbing flood in the basement of Waterfield resulted in no damages and was taken care of efficiently enough that the library did not have to be closed.

Additionally, Burdette said students stayed away from the standing water without having to be told.


The third pipe leak in Regents this semester happened on April 14, and Burdette said it was because a valve failed in the piping system installed last summer.

Burdette said the entire Regents building underwent a piping project last June to help with the transition from heating to cooling. This project replaced all the pipes involved in the heating and cooling system. Burdette said the pipes were replaced with a new system to help individual rooms heat the space better and faster.

Burdette said since there have been three flooding incidents in Regents during Spring 2016, all of the pipes that were changed during the project last summer would be replaced again on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23.

Burdette said the housing staff of Regents did the right thing to turn off the water when the leak was noticed and because of that, the failed valve inconvenienced fewer people. 

Tyler Presson, senior from Camden, Tennessee, lives in Regents and said he was not directly affected by the flooding. He also said he did not know of any damage because of the flooding.

“The only thing the flooding did to me directly was causing me to dodge the occasional wet floor sign in the halls,” Presson said.