Water Outage Interrupts Everyday Routines

Vanessa Paolella, Editor in Chief

Last Monday, an unexpected water outage in numerous buildings on campus surprised members of the Bates community. The shutdown, running from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 24, occurred as the Water and Sewage division of Lewiston Public Works (LPW) replaced a broken water main along Central Ave.
LPW detected a problem in the water line, located near the intersection of Central and Campus Ave., some time last week, per LPW. However, replacing the pipe was put on hold for a few days while they took care of other more immediate issues in Lewiston.
While the exact reason for the water main break is undetermined, LPW said that repairs like this are common, especially during the winter months when the ground freezes and thaws.
According to an email sent by Bates Housing, the water outage was unexpected: “Original reports from the City of Lewiston indicated we would not be experiencing any disruption in service,” it read.
After recognizing the issue, LPW initially estimated the shutdown to last for one to two hours. However, LPW determined that they would have to isolate an additional water line than previously expected, increasing the duration of the project. Some buildings had been running without water for more than five hours by the time water service was fully restored to campus.
Buildings connected to the Central Ave, Campus Ave. and Franklin St. water lines experienced the water outage, including Commons, Ladd Library and many academic and residential buildings.
Students were unable to use the restroom, water fountains or laundry facilities in the buildings affected during this time. Commons was hit particularly hard as many of its basic functions rely heavily on water availability.
Without water, the dish washer can no longer run, nor can the drink dispensers. By the time the water had gone out, much of the food preparations for breakfast and lunch were well underway. However, some platforms such as the pasta bar require a continuous source of water.
“Having no water is absolutely a challenge! Cooking, dish washing, beverage dispensing and even restrooms are all dependent upon it,” Director of Dining, Cheryl Lacey, explained.
Nonetheless, Commons continued to function by implementing a predetermined backup plan.
“When something like this happens, we put the appropriate plan into action to deal with the situation and our entire team works together to keep diners fed with as little disruption as possible,” Lacey wrote.
Paper and plastic utensils were brought out for use, and when the water outage stretched on, bottles of water were also available for students to grab. Commons staff melted ice from the large ice machines in the back and collected portable beverage dispensers from other buildings on campus to aid with cooking. The pasta bar continued to operate by using stored jugs of water.
“As much as we hate having to use disposables in Commons, not having a dishwasher necessitates this,” Lacey wrote.
Additionally, after the Den lost water, it was temporarily closed and staff were reassigned to assist with Commons operations.