Residence runs dry

Residence runs dry
Tap water in Halifax is fine. No reason to purchase disposable water bottles. (Photo by Angela Gzowski)
written by Laura Hubbard
January 20, 2012 1:00 pm

Plumbing is on the rocks. Photo by Angela Gzowski

Cassandra Lowartz, a Fountain House resident, pays an extra $480 in residence fees for a sink in her room. But she and everyone else who pays the fee were left with empty taps when the Dalhousie facilities team turned off water to her building in December.

No compensation is being offered to the affected students.

“My daily schedule is affected,” Lowartz says. “It’s more difficult to do my dishes, make coffee in the morning.”

Lowartz also expressed concerns about access to washrooms. She has a bad knee from an old injury and finds it difficult to travel up and down the stairs every time she needs to use the washroom.

Maryanne Barkley, the facilities building manager at Dal, sent out an email to all affected students before the water access was turned off, saying it would be for “maintenance work including valve replacement. Fountain residents can use the washroom facilities in Smith and Bronson houses during this shutdown.”

The shutdown was to last from Dec. 19 to 23, the latter part of the exam period. Barkley says the work was avoided for as long as possible and these dates were chosen because Fountain House would not be fully occupied so late in the semester.

Barkley, in email correspondence, made it clear that the facilities team did what they could to minimize the impact on residents. During the shutdown in December, bottled water was made available to those affected.

The shutdown was necessary, Barkley says. Earlier this school year, a leak was discovered in a hot-water line on the fourth floor of Fountain House.

“In order to replace the damaged section of pipe, water needed to be shut down so the plumbing lines could be drained,” Barkley wrote. “Residents were notified and accommodations were made for them.”

Lowartz says this is not the only shutdown this calendar year; this happened twice during the winter semester last year, as well.

She is not the only one frustrated about these plumbing issues: the facilities team is as well. While Fountain House is a relatively new building, the plumbing is plastic and connections are sealed with plumbing glue. Barkley acknowledged last winter’s issues, saying leaks began to develop in the basement of the residence.

The facilities team worked over the summer months on Fountain House and its plumbing system, and will continue to do so after classes end this year.

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