Water main break on Hoxsey shuts down water, students inconvenienced

Hours before the “100 Days” dance last Saturday, seniors living on Hoxsey Street lost a few chances to brush their teeth and shower.

As a result of a 12:30 p.m. water main break on Hoxsey Street near the Walden intersection, Buildings and Grounds (B&G) turned off the water in several campus buildings from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Since the town maintains the street, the Williamstown police responded to the scene of the initial water main break.

A pipe five-feet below the surface of the road had burst due to the sudden change in temperatures. In order to complete repairs, the Town requested that the College shut off water to all buildings in the area, which included Agard, Spencer, Brooks, Milham, Bronfman and the Health Center.

Water to the buildings was shut off in stages starting at 3 p.m. and was turned on again by 7 p.m., causing only a minor inconvenience for students. The Health Center had no problems managing without water for this block of time.

Besides losing water for a few hours, students in the affected dorms had to allow the water to run for some time after the service. Many students complained about initially having brown or soapy white water.

“Some of the mineral and other deposits that stay adhered to the inside of the pipes under pressure tend to fall off and become suspended in the water,” said Ken Jensen, foreman of the plumbers . But, he added that the particles “are harmless, except they add a tint to the water.”

The Williamstown Highway Department explained that frost was responsible for the plumbing accident. When the ground warms up after being frozen, it often shifts, shearing the pipes.

“It is a fairly common experience. In the neighborhood, there are about three to four a winter. [The town highway department] worked fast to repair the pipe and get back service. The College and general public were very patient,” said Edward Rondeau, water and sewer superintendent.

While the loss of service caused by the ruptured pipe may have been nuisance for some students, the biggest concern for the College was the lack of water for the sprinkler system.This is the second major plumbing accident on campus in the past three weeks. Earlier this month, a sprinkler in one of the Mission kitchen coolers released a surge of water, which closed the dining hall.

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