Backed Up Toilets Baffle Maintenance Workers

urinals
Bathroom stalls and urinals around campus backed up for about two hours Wednesday and Thursday, but maintenance workers don’t know why. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don
Bathroom stalls and urinals around campus backed up for about two hours Wednesday and Thursday, but maintenance workers don’t know why. / C. Harold Pierce / el Don

By C. Harold Pierce

Low water pressure that had toilets, sinks and urinals filling up with waste and overflowing in several campus buildings Thursday is back to normal, college officials said.

After about two hours, water pressure returned at about 12:15 p.m., maintenance workers said.

“I’m just baffled by the situation,” Lead Maintenance Worker Heller Sanchez said. “We don’t have an explanation. We’re trying to figure it out with the city but haven’t received a response.”

Urinals began backing up Wednesday at about 10 a.m. and lasted for two hours. It happened again the same time Thursday.

At least four buildings were affected, including Russell Hall, Nealley Library, Johnson Center and Hammond Hall.

Today is worse, Santa Ana College Facilities Manager Mark Wheeler said.

“There’s a little bit of everything right now. Toilets backing up, sinks not being used. Right now, we’re trying as hard as we can,” Wheeler said.

The problem stems from low water supply pressure from the city, Wheeler said.

But city officials say the problem is on the college’s end.

“If we had low water pressure, we’d hear about it from other residents and businesses,”

Santa Ana Interim Public Works Director William Galvez said, adding that water pressure in the college’s district is almost twice the minimum standard.

Since toilets operate from sewer lines, backed up stalls are not related to water pressure, Galvez said, adding that the college’s problems are probably stemming from a water valve that needs replacing.

The situation has facilities workers perplexed. Maintenance workers have not found any broken lines and construction crews have not reported any damage.

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“We’re trying frantically to figure it out and not having much success,” Wheeler said.

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