Outdoor Services Crew

Monday, April 13, 2015

Windowless Buildings...

Why are there buildings on campus without windows?  Oh, you haven't seen any like that?  Don't feel bad, they aren't meant to be noticed.  Most are nestled among trees and bushes.  There is one right next to Varsity Lake.  Take a look next time you are standing on the bridge looking North over the lake. If you still can't see it, then the architects have done their job making the pump house blend in with the other Tuscan style buildings on campus (dark red tiled roof, and pink sandstone exterior).
View of Varsity Lake Pump House - Hale Science in background
When you do spot the pump house, your first thought might be, "so what's the big deal?" Don’t let appearances fool you. According to Ryan Heiland, Assistant Manager of the Outdoor Services group and manager of the on campus irrigation team, this building and three other pump houses are the heart of the irrigation system. Without their ability to pump water from their reservoirs, the campus would return to its field flooding methods. Believe me, we don't want that to happen but that is a story for another blog.

Varsity Lake Pump House looking North from the bridge
Pump station inspections are the second step in getting the irrigation system up and running.  Unlike the dormant plants outside, machinery inside the pump houses have continued winter tasks.  Heaters and aeration pumps have been working away.  Now that winter is ending and summer heat is just around the corner, the crews remove insulation from the building vents and put in fans.  
A peek inside 28th St and College Ave Pump House
After the visual inspections, it is time to exercise the pumps.  Now I really sound like I know what I'm talking about...right?  I'm learning!

If the pump monitors pass inspection, it is time for the team to work on getting air out of the lines that has built up over the winter and send water out.  Not so fast....if this isn't done just right, water hammer could rear its ugly head and slow everything down.  What is water hammer?  It's as bad as the name sounds, but never fear, the irrigation team is all over it.  Watch for more on this next week.

Clockwise from top left:  Varsity Lake, 28th & CO Ave., Research Park, Williams Village
In the picture above, you can see the different building styles.  It takes a full month to bring the whole campus irrigation up and running.  The main campus pump houses are the first to come on line but the same process applies to East and South campus pump stations.

Next blog:  "Let the water flow"
Stay tuned.