Recap of DMACC Building 6 flood

Photo courtesy Julie Klocke

There was a water main break causing a major flood in the basement of Building 6 on Dec. 21, 2021.

Jay Tiefenthaler, Director of Energy Management, Safety, and Security, said, “Building 6 has a basement storage area that runs along the west wall of the building (under the library). The water was contained to only this area of the building.”

According to Controller Ben Voaklander, “The college stores old paper documents in that area. The college maintains documents for seven years as part of its document retention plan. Many of the boxes contained old Business Office records. Continuing Ed, Marketing, Human Resources, Nursing, Dental Clinic, Grants and the President had documents in that space.”

Boxes of paper documents were destroyed. There were also some old photos and framed photos that were destroyed. The paper items ruined cannot be restored or replaced. The basement was primarily cardboard boxes and metal shelving. There was also some old wood shelving that was disposed of. The initial estimate for clean-up was $20,000-25,000; however, DMACC has not received the final invoices. 

A DMACC security officer noticed water bubbling up slowly from the ground before sunrise that morning and reported it. Jay Tiefenthaler was able to determine the location of the water main leak near and around Building 6, and because of their knowledge of how our underground utility line network is situated, knew to check the basement of Building 6 for water. 

When they went to check the basement they found water roughly seven feet deep. 

Bob Frisk, Supervisor of Mechanical and Electrical, said, “We plan on sealing up the nine cells and pipe coming into the basement,” this way they can prevent another possible flooding. 

For the clean-up of the basement, first On-Site Property Restoration, a third party was used to clean up the basement area. Josh Crannell, DMACC Custodial Supervisor, organized the cleanup for this situation. 

As the weather turns and gets colder in the winter, water main breaks become more common. This is due to the expansion and contraction of the pipe material which weakens it. Pipe corrosion, soil conditions, age, and ground movement can also cause water main breaks, creating unexpected problems for everyone including home and business owners. 

This could happen to you, make sure you investigate water pressure issues, report any nearby soil erosion, and watch where you dig. If this does happen, make sure to reach out for help, this could be a local plumber and report to the Water Authority as soon as possible. Call your local water authority and report the main break immediately. Pipe damage on your property may indicate deeper issues on a mainline hidden under the street or sidewalk.

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