• Alyson Heisler

Beaver Dam Water Break Damages Student Center and Impacts Campus Activities


On the evening of Feb. 3, a sprinkler line burst causing water to flow into the Beaver Dam and downstairs into the first floor Student Center lounge/gaming area.

Brent Winiger, vice president for administration and finances, explained that snow and ice had gathered by the north entrance of the Beaver Dam, so the door couldn’t close entirely letting in a lot of cold air. The secondary door had been closed after the Beaver Dam had been closed for the night around 1 a.m., so no heat could reach the area.

“All the sudden there was no source of heat coming into the vestibule area, but there was a lot of cold air coming in. There’s a sprinkler line above there, that may have never been used before, that froze and burst,” Winiger said.

Brian Smith, director of facilities, confirmed that the sprinkler head released around 2,000 gallons of water into the area.

The cleanup process began quickly afterward, as employees were called in to begin the extraction of the water, and CleanTech was hired to clean and restore the affected areas. On Feb. 6, an insurance adjuster evaluated the damages that resulted from the incident.

“We don’t know what those costs are going to be, but it will easily exceed $100,000 dollars and probably well beyond that,” Winiger said. “I think our insurance will cover a good chunk of it (damages) and it’s a good thing that we had insurance because it’s going to cost quite a bit to fix it up.”

The insurance adjuster reported his findings to Justin Ritz, the operations manager at CleanTech, and found that a large amount of the downstairs space will need to be cleared out and redone, including the floor tiles and ceilings.

“We got the OK to demo the whole downstairs area, to take down all the ceiling to evaluate what’s up there, and all the drywall that soaked up all the water,” Ritz said. “All the walls are built in a bit so there’s insulation behind there and we don’t know what soaked into there.” Materials most impacted were flooring and wallboards in both areas, along with some lights, a few tables, a speaker, and one security camera on the lower level. None of the TV’s or game systems were damaged, but the area will not reopen for quite a while.

“If it had to happen somewhere on campus, this was probably one of the better places for it to happen just because we weren’t using the downstairs area for a whole lot, so in that respect we can tolerate that area not being used for a while,” Winiger said.

The downstairs area may not be an in-demand area, but the Beaver Dam is a popular area for students to work or study while also being the primary location of MSU Life events during the winter. Several events were impacted by the water break, including a pool tournament, bingo, and Pinterest night.

Aaron Hughes, MSU Life Director, said the previously scheduled events will continue on their respective dates; Pinterest night on Feb. 24, and Bingo on Feb. 28, but they’ll be relocated to the Conference room on the third floor of the Student Center. A closet in the Beaver Dam used to store prizes and supplies for MSU Life events, including recently purchased prizes for 500 Ways to Win, was also damaged by the water break.

“We had just purchased a bunch of stuff for our 500 Ways to Win event that was impacted by the water damage, but we replaced it and we were definitely a bit displaced,” Hughes said. “We’re trying to be positive about it — it’s something that we have to deal with but yes, events will go on.”

The university had planned to renovate the downstairs area previously utilized as Buckshots in the next few years.

“The upshot of all this is that we will be fixing all of this, and we don’t know exactly how were going to fix it. We were planning on remodeling the space a few years down the line, but we’ll have to rethink our plan,” Winiger said.


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