Plumbing updates fix rusty pipes

Editor’s note: This version of the story features mechanical corrections from the original.

While students were off campus during breaks from classes, MCCC midnight custodial crews would leave the water running in mop sinks and bathrooms to flush the aged, deteriorated and corroded water lines.

When students and faculty returned to campus, they would discover rusty water coming from the faucets when using the restrooms in the Campbell Building.

Jack Burns, director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said he is working diligently to correct the issues and is aware of the students’ concerns. The C Building is now being filled with brand new pipes, which is one of the several water line improvement projects across campus.

The zero-increase millage renewal from November 2020 provided the additional funds needed to work on the water lines, along with many other upgrades to MCCC’s buildings, Burns said. A full list of these upgrades can be found on MCCC’s website.

Sample of epoxy coating the inside of a galvanized water line (Photos by Michael Moser).

In Founders Hall and L Building, contractors applied a permanent epoxy to the inside of the pipes, which makes them smooth like a brand new pipe, Burns said.

“Basically, you’re inserting a PVC pipe inside existing galvanized,” Burns said.

Founders Hall and the L Building received over $911,ooo of plumbing renovations, according to plumbing invoices.

The C Building plumbing layout was different from other buildings, so it was more cost effective to replace them with copper water lines, Burns said.

“We actually ran new supply lines from where it comes in from the city municipal water,” Burns said. “All the valves and everything is new.”

Plumbing updates for the C Building total over $225,000, according to plumbing invoices.

The C Building has followed budget and is on schedule to be finished in the beginning of June in order to be ready for classes, Fall of 2022, Burns said.

The only two remaining original buildings left to have their domestic water lines lined or replaced are the A Building and the Physical Plant, both of which will be addressed when their respective planned renovation projects occur, Burns said.

Updated water bottle filler and drinking fountain in the Career Technology Center.

All newer water fountains and bottle filling stations have an additional water filter that are replaced regularly, Burns said. Older fountains in older buildings do not have the additional filter but will be upgraded as MCCC continues to renovate each building.

Burns said the city of Monroe evaluates the water on a regular basis to ensure it’s safe from contaminants such as lead and bacteria.

The city also monitors water quality during algae blooms and can test the water at anyone’s request.

Burns assisted the Agora and planned for the Monroe Water Department to take samples.

Brian Jeffries, water service worker, and Kevin Nash, meter shop job leader, collected samples from an L Building bathroom sink, a Founders Hall bathroom sink, and at the Founders Hall water meter in the basement.

Matt Ratz, water plant operator, tests MCCC’s water samples on Feb. 18.

Matt Ratz, water plant operator, performed tests for bacteria, pH value, and chlorine residual.

One bacteria test puts the water in a dish that creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, and after a 48-hour period, zero bacteria was found.

Then, they performed a second test for bacteria that uses a chemical powder and will make the water change color if bacteria is present. This test also came back negative.

The water samples taken from campus had a pH value of 7.37 on average. With 7.0 being neutral on the pH scale the perfect score for this test would be 7.40 according to the Monroe Water Department.

“Chlorine degrades over time that it is in the system,” said Barry Laroy, director of Water.

The lab results also show that the chlorine residual is inside the required parameters.

The water sample results were consistent with water test results the Agora published in 2013.

The Monroe Water Department and Burns confirmed that the water lines should be flushed regularly after long breaks when no one has been using the water to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.

After reviewing the results of the samples with Kevin Armstrong, Water Distribution Superintendent; Laroy; and Chris Knight, Water Department lab worker, who also worked on the water samples, the information proved that the water is exceptionally clean.

When asked how clean the water is with a score of 10 being the best, Chris Knight said, “It’s a 10, I’d drink that water myself.”

The water company takes samples from outside, behind the H building every Wednesday to ensure the results stay consistent and are always inside the acceptable range of quality. This location is where the main water line from the city supplies our entire campus.