New College overcomes residence hall water outage challenge
Brown water in a W dorm shower. Photo by Chloe Rusek.

New College overcomes residence hall water outage challenge

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This Catalyst reporter and other students at New College of Florida faced an unexpected disruption as the Lee & Bob Peterson Residence Hall, also known as W, experienced a hot water outage from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3 attributed to an aging, cracked water heater.  Residents worried about when they would get their water back, but thanks to the prompt response, the issue was swiftly addressed and normalcy was restored for the affected residents in just a few days.

“It started in the morning when I went to turn the faucet on hot and all the water came out brown. It cleared up and the cold water was fine, but honestly I still didn’t even want to brush my teeth,” Arianna Lockman, second-year and Catalyst staff writer stated.

The sight of anything other than clear water is enough to put anyone off, but that isn’t where it stopped. Not only was the water brown, eventually the system quit working altogether.

“Well, at the end of a long day at work I was really looking forward to a shower,” Lockman said “When I got home and tried to turn it on, the water wasn’t even brown because nothing came out. I was not just mad, I was fuming.”

Lockman commented on how most of the issues were unexpected and really brought to light how important water is in daily life.

“I was definitely caught off guard. You don’t realize how much you rely on water until it’s not there,” she said. She gave examples of how others were dealing with the issues. One person “was washing her hair with drinking water from Publix and I was showering at Planet Fitness. The school told us we couldn’t drink the water, to go to the Hamilton Center instead, and to find a friend’s dorm to shower in or go to the gym.”

Screenshot of an email update from RA Laura Farias to the residents of W dorm. Photo courtesy of Arianna Lockman.

This reporter spoke with  Pavel Rusek, who is her father and a certified contractor with Rusek Custom Construction, Hegave insight into the details of the situation, tracing the  outage back to the aging water heating system in W Dorm. 

“If the brown water comes out of the faucet only when the hot water is on, then it’s most likely a rusting water heater or sediment and mineral build up,” Rusek said. “If it’s coming out even when it’s cold then it might be rusting water pipes.”

Rusek went into depth about the process of caring for water heaters and what the average time is in between cleanings and servicing. These steps are supposed to be taken to ensure the highest quality of water, as well as to keep the system running better for longer.

“Once a year, the water heater should be flushed out. The rod inside should be replaced every three to five years, or the entire heater can be replaced every 6-10 years.”

New College housing and maintenance workers were quick to respond to the situation, and called in a professional plumbing service. They identified a faulty water heater as the root cause. This information was relayed to the dorm residents by Resident Advisor (RA) Laura Farias.

Screenshot of an email update from RA Laura Farias to the residents of W dorm. Provided by Arianna Lockman.

In a proactive measure, decided to replace the old heaters with new, more efficient models to prevent similar issues in the future.

New College’s commitment to student welfare was evident in its swift and efficient response to the crisis. By midday on Nov. 3, the replacement of the water heaters was successfully completed, and water services were restored to W Dorm. Students expressed their appreciation for the  rapid resolution of the issue.

“I’m impressed with how quickly they fixed it, even though it took a couple of days. It’s good to know that New College is trying their best [to be] proactive about these things,” Sam Worthington, a thesis student, W dorm resident and  Catalyst staff writer said. He spoke about the initial anxiety residents faced with the situation.

“There have been issues like this on campus before and maintenance is pretty good at getting requests done quickly, but everyone thought this would be a longer ordeal with how complicated plumbing is. Thankfully, it was an easy enough fix.”

In the aftermath of the water outage in W, students are grateful for the swift response from housing officials and maintenance teams. As normalcy returns with the installation of new, efficient water heaters, the incident serves as a reminder of the importance of proactive infrastructure maintenance.

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