April Showers Flood Campus

SARAH STOESZ | Staff Reporter

Butler University plans to improve sidewalk drainage in the summer of 2015 to prevent flooding on campus after heavy rainfall.

Campus was hit late last week and early this week with heavy rain, causing flooding in some areas. Atherton Union experienced flooding last Thursday, Assistant Chief of Police Bill Weber said.

“I was sitting down in Atherton talking to someone while they were eating lunch, and I noticed that they were eating off of foam plates and drinking out of foam cups,” he said. “One of the workers told me they had a problem with flooding, so they didn’t have access to a dishwasher during lunch.”

Because Atherton Union is situated at the end of a sewer line, heavy rainfall often causes this sewer to back up which leads to flooding, said Rich Michal, executive director of facilities.

Butler hopes to replace the sidewalks with permeable pavers that will prevent standing water.

“We are holding off on doing that right now because we are working to develop the new housing project, and as part of that, we are going to have to reroute a number of utilities,” he said. “Obviously, I’d rather do it sooner, but we don’t want to have to tear up the sidewalks when classes are in session.”

The new drainage should help with other issues that surface. Puddles form on the sidewalks after it rains, creating a nuisance for Butler students, said junior Kimberly Bradford.

“The puddles are super annoying,” she said. “I own a pair of rain boots, but if I am not wearing them, my feet get drenched and it’s like walking through a monsoon to get to class.”

This issue is more prominent on the sidewalks on the mall near Atherton Union and Jordan Hall, Michal said.

“The sidewalks have always been an issue,” Michal said.  “Back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Clarendon (Road) used to go through campus.  We closed that out to make a beautiful mall, but the problem was, the drainage was designed to end up on the sidewalk.”

The west side of campus is also a region of concern, as it is built on a flood plane. The roads on the west side often flood, Michal said.

The university has taken measures to prevent flooding in the I Lot on the west side of campus, Weber said.

“About a third of the I Lot is pervious. In other words, the rainwater, even though it’s can work through the street,” Weber said. “The loss of those spaces would mean trying to find the asphalt and it is probably about six to eight feet deep,” Weber said.

Water often collects on the flat roofs of many of Butler’s buildings. The heavy participation and temperature changes this season have caused leaking, Michal said.

“We did have at least one dorm room, a women’s dorm room in Ross Hall, where we had a leak problem, so we had to move those girls out of that dorm room and clean that up,” he said.

Besides residence halls, Jordan Hall also has leaking issues, Michal said.

“It was built in 1912, so the joints between the granite have broken down. Moisture can get in between there and that brick is very soft, so moisture wicks in,” he said. “We especially have problems at both stair towers.”

Despite the heavy rainfall, BUPD did not receive any complaints or have to respond to car issues from the flooding, Weber said.

“There were a lot of places in a lot worse situations, so relatively speaking,” Michal said. “I was pretty pleased with how we fared.”