First-year students find muddy tap water in Commons residence halls

On two occasions, water shutoffs in Murray and Gillette houses were followed by noticeably brown sink water


Emily Gonçalves

The roof of Commons Center. (Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

Jessica M. Barker and Thomas Hum

After recent water shutoffs in Commons Murray and Gillette houses on Aug. 29 and Sep. 9 respectively, first-year students found dirty water coming from residence hall sinks, showers and drinking fountains.

On the afternoon of Aug. 29, Murray residents noticed that showers and sinks would not produce water.

“I tried turning on the water in the shower and nothing came out, even on cold, except for a few drips,” Murray resident Erica Yeagley said. “No one said anything about the water being turned off.”

When the water came back on, residents found dark particles in the water collected from Murray sinks.

Brown water after a repair is very common and absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” Director of Engineering and Tech Support for Plant Operations Mitch Lampley said in an email to the Hustler. “The water normally clears if the water is run for a few minutes. Therefore, there were never any safety concerns.”

Discolored water flows from a sink in Gillette on Sept. 9. (Photo courtesy Justin Chung)

Water was again turned off without notice in Gillette on the morning of Sept. 9. Water flow was restored around noon, but Gillette residents again found discolored water in their taps. Discolored water continued to flow from Gillette faucets for  two hours, according to Gillette resident Wonjun Seok. Despite accounts by residents, Plant Operations staff have no record of the outage, Lampley said. 

Gillette Area Maintenance Supervisor Brian Craig declined to comment. 

“I found out about what was going on when my floor residents mentioned it in our group chat,” Gillette Resident Advisor Chip Dail said. “It’s not the first time something like this has happened.”

Gillette residents voiced discontent with the diminished water quality and lack of communication about the water issues. 

“I think it’s ridiculous that our RAs found out about what was going on along with us,” Gillette resident Trey Stanley said. “Our brown water sort of became a running joke around Commons.”

Students who experience maintenance issues are encouraged to fill out Maintenance Request forms for the Office of Housing & Residential Education, which can be found in the Student Housing Portal.