When junior Danielle Simpson’s roommate got sick last year in Benzing Residence she couldn’t use the toilet, take a shower, or even wash her hands. That’s because students say the water supply in Benzing shuts off every night, sometimes for several hours.
“My roommate had the stomach flu at night and we had no water in the bathroom at all. Sorry for the gross stories but it’s true and gross,” she said.
Several Benzing residents have reported a problem with the water pressure in Benzing during early morning hours, usually between 2 and 4 a.m.
Administrators say there is nothing unusual about the dorm’s water system.
“Water is never shut off to any part of campus during oc- cupied times in the residences unless it is necessary to do so for repairs or construction,” said Timothy Wells, energy education specialist. “The exception is when irrigation systems get turned off during the winter.”
Some students think it may have something to do with the water softener.
The water softener in Benzing must regenerate every 24 hours, said senior Sarah Fiore, the dorm’s head resident as- sistant for the past three years. Fiore said regeneration takes one hour — usually between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. — every night.
During that hour, women only have access to the water already in the pipes since the water softener pulls the rest of the water out of the system.
“This is normal operating procedure for this type of softener,” Fiore said. “We tell the girls at the beginning of the year and it has never been a big issue. Girls plan around it.”
The water softener has been in Benzing for the past eight years, ever since House Director Sue Abel took over, Fiore said.
The loss of water pressure generally affects the rooms on different floors at slightly staggered times throughout the regeneration process.
Fiore said maintenance has assured her the system is working correctly. She has only received two official complaints in her time as head RA and both were submitted last year. She has not heard any complaints this year.
Benzing RA sophomore Morgan Linden said she has heard several complaints from women about the lack of water pressure at night. Even if water is not technically shut off, the effect is the same.
“I know [the water] doesn’t get turned off, but seriously, it pretty much does,” she said. “I’ve had times where not more than a few drops of water would come out of the drinking fountain or a faucet. A shower is a near impossibility after 1:45 or 2-ish.”
Sophomore Rebekah Lindstrom said, “Our water [in Benzing] often turns off at night around 2 or 3 in the morning.”
As illustrated by Simpson’s story, this seems to have been a problem for women last year as well.
“Last year in Benzing the water would sometimes be turned off completely during the night for a few hours and it was terrible,” junior Catherine Feeney said. “I couldn’t brush teeth, use the bathroom, or get a drink of water.”
Fiore said there are two future options: to get a new water-softening system, or to change the time of the daily regeneration. Maintenance can adjust the time for the regen- eration but Fiore said there is no reason.
“We haven’t had enough complaints to justify calling maintenance to change the time,” Fiore said.
She said pushing the regeneration time back any later in the morning would start interfering with athletes who get up early for morning practices.
“The girls work around it,” Fiore said. “Every building has its little quirks.”