Sewage leak in Johnson Hall causes flooding

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Johnson Hall was inundated with sewage last Sunday as a result of a backup in the main sewer line that runs underneath both the building and the Academic Quad. The overflow resulted in the temporary relocation of classes and faculty offices as well as the shutoff of heating and cooling systems in the building.

The overflow originated from toilets and sinks in the first-floor bathrooms and custodial closet near the back of the building, according to Director of Facilities Management Thomas Polansky. The overflow then spread to the office area behind the media wall and into the area around Room 106, which includes several office spaces, working spaces and walking areas.

A faculty member discovered the sewage at 10:30 a.m. Within an hour Facilities, had began working on the issue, according to Polansky.

“Crews worked until late Sunday evening to remove carpet and the lower portion of any drywall affected as well as thoroughly disinfecting and drying the flooring and/or surfaces in all adjacent areas,” Director of Communications Jim Tranquada said viaemail. “Prompt cleanup means there should be no impact on the health and safety of anyone in the building.”

Although Johnson was the only building affected by the
overflow, the cause of the problem was due to a backup of various
materials and substances from sources across lower campus, according to
Polansky. Sewer pipes from Samuelson Pavilion, Haines Hall, Emmons
Wellness Center and other buildings join together
under Johnson Hall. The convergence of sewage at this location and under the quad ultimately caused the backup and overflow inside Johnson.

According to Tranquada, staff members near the area affected by the minor sewer flood have been moved temporarily to offices in North Trailer A. Monday’s classes in Johnson 106 were also relocated, but have resumed in their regular location.

Tranquada expects the faculty will be able to move back into their offices by Thursday. To ensure no contaminants remain, an outside decontamination company is currently testing the area, Polansky said. Heating and cooling systems have also been turned off to avoid exacerbating the problem.

“As a precaution we have shut down the building’s heating and cooling system until the scope of the flooding has been fully understood,” Tranquada said via email. “The mild weather should assist with the building’s general comfort level, but in the interim there may be areas of the building that become either too hot or too cold.”

According to Polansky, the college will replace sewer lines in the quad over the next month to fully resolve the issue.