Get The Boat: Broken water main causes campus closure

Water flowed up from the ground and into LBCC’s storage building on the northwest edge of campus, Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Amanda Kleiver peeks out of the flooded storage facility at LBCC's Albany campus. Photo by Leta Howell
Amanda Kleiver peeks out of the flooded storage facility at LBCC’s Albany campus. Photo by Leta Howell

Deep beneath 2 layers of pavement and a 3-ft layer of gravel, a broken water main sprayed for over four hours. The waters pressurized through cracks in the pavement in at least three places, directly in front of the storage building, according to Facilities Director Scott Krambuhl.

LBCC’s Facilities Department organized the repair of the water main. Facilities were unable to turn off water to the area without shutting off water to the entire campus; this meant no bathroom facilities or fire sprinkler systems, and would require campus to be evacuated.

After communicating with campus administration, they made the decision to evacuate campus at 3 p.m. in order for repairs to commence.

“It couldn’t have gone much better than it did, once we got past the initial panic of trying to find a valve we couldn’t find,” said Scott Krambuhl, director of facilities.

Keith Hashagen attempts to stop the flow of water by shutting off a valve. Photo by Leta Howell
Keith Hashagen attempts to stop the flow of water by shutting off a valve. Photo by Leta Howell

An old valve operator was the flood’s culprit.

“We didn’t know what was there until we dug it up. We were really surprised the valve was there,” said Krambuhl.

Krambuhl said the repair was a coordinated effort with the City of Albany, excavators Mid-Pacific Enterprises, as well as Northwest Mechanical.

“Once we opened it up it was an incredible stroke of luck; the city had a valve operator in their warehouse,” said Krambuhl. “It was a great team effort to just get it done quick.”

Without the spare part, repairs would need a part all the way in Eugene.

Despite the successful repair, some LBCC property was damaged.

“I’ve opened up a property claim just in case the damage goes above our deductible,” said Marcene Olson, LBCC’s safety and loss prevention director.

The storage facility houses equipment, furniture and some paperwork belonging to various LBCC departments.

“They [LBCC Facilities] haven’t assessed what the actual loss is,” said Olson.

Krambuhl expressed gratitude towards the City of Albany and LBCC administration, for making what could have been a difficult repair situation into a swiftly solved problem.

Story by Emily Goodykoontz

Photos by Leta Howell