CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Tens of thousands of West Virginia American Water customers have started the process of flushing their pipes of any contaminated water from last week’s chemical spill into the Elk River. Imagine having to complete that process 100 times over.
That’s what the facilities and service crew at the University of Charleston has been dealt and they are on a deadline.
Classes were supposed to start back on Monday but delayed because of the water crisis. Students who live in the dorm will arrive back on campus Wednesday at 5 p.m. and classes will begin first thing Thursday morning.
Gary Boyd, U.C.’s director of facilities and services, has a crew of about 25 working on flushing 11 buildings on campus. He’s making sure all the protocols required by West Virginia American Water Company are followed. He even went one step further.
“I also contacted [CAMC] hospital to find out what protocol they were following and if they were given any special directions so we could do the same on our campus,” explained Boyd.
Turns out there was one difference. The hospital was told to start the flushing process on the top floor of every building. UC did the same.
“We wanted to concentrate on the flushing of the dorms and make sure we focused on the food service so we could get our students safely back on campus,” he said.
The process started Monday evening as soon as Zone 3, Kanawha City, was given the green light from the company. By Tuesday morning the flushing process was well underway. Boyd said in order to make sure every piece of equipment had been flushed and cleaned they put a tag on it.
“Every restroom in every dorm has been flushed. We tagged those after flushing them so that if there is any amount of human error and it doesn’t have a tag on it, then whatever student is going to use that room can contact us and say ‘Hey, my room didn’t have a tag on it,’ explained Boyd.
On Tuesday Boyd’s crew worked on cleaning ice machines, lab sinks, shower rooms and water fountains. Plus there’s a pool to completely drain.
“We are absolutely not going to take any chance with that water being contaminated at all. So we’re flushing several thousand gallons of water with that one project,” according to Boyd.
Draining the pool will take at least five days. Then it will take several more to fill it back up.
Boyd stressed no shortcuts were taken.
“We’re tying to make sure we cover everything and that everybody’s safe when they come back to this campus.”
More than 1,300 students are enrolled at the University of Charleston.