Around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, Rick Tupper, assistant vice president for university services got a call from a groundskeeper about water coming from a crack in the street at 33rd and Prairie.
“We got down there, and water is spraying up about 3 feet tall like a geyser out of a crack in the street,” Tupper said. “We called the city because we knew it was going to be a water main issue, and they responded quickly.”
Tupper said that the recent hard freezes pushed the frost line deeper underground which hit a weak spot in a pipe and cracked it.
The city had to isolate the water line. To do this, water was shut off to Bergsaker Hall, the Froiland Science Complex, and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Campus Life delivered drinking water to the Bergsaker lobby for students.
Freshman Thea Patrick tweeted, “So there was a water outage in my dorm today and the lobby looked like an apocalypse survival shelter.”
Freshman Isaac von Fischer, who lives in Bergsaker, said he did his homework in the library and stayed in the Elmen as long as possible that night. He said he didn’t want to have to shower in Solberg because it would have been “weird.”
Students in science labs in the Froiland had to walk over to the Madsen Center to fill water containers so they could continue their labs, said Tupper.
Director of Campus Learning Center Judy Knadel said that the CLC was not affected because its water supply was not shut off until after the center closed.
In order to fix the pipe, the city workers had to tear up the street. City workers had to locate utilities before they could tear up the street so they didn’t hit a power line or another pipe Tupper said.
The workers started digging around 2:30 p.m. after closing off 33rd Street, directing traffic around campus.
Bergsaker Hall Director Brent Olinger said he was told to expect the water main to be fixed within four to eight hours.
“We tried to update students as soon as we knew more in that time frame,” he said.
“The city was great to work with,” said Tupper. “They kept us in the loop and we were able to push out updates.”
Around 8:30 p.m. the city told Tupper that the pipe was fixed after being out for six and a half hours.
Tupper said that after the city fixed the water pipe they were notified of another pipe in Sioux Falls they had to go fix.