Students report lack of hot water, low water pressure in two residence halls

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Students in two residence halls have reported issues with hot water, leading them to wait up to 15 minutes for their shower water to heat up.

Water-related issues in Shenkman and Amsterdam halls have caused students to use cold water for showers and dish-washing this month.

In a survey posted in a GroupMe chat for Shenkman Hall residents Tuesday, more than 50 students said they were living without hot water as part of widespread reports of hot water shut-offs, cloudy streams of water and low sink and shower pressure this fall. Baxter Goodly, the associate vice president for facilities planning, construction and management, said students have filed nearly 50 FixIt tickets for water issues since Sept. 2.

The utility problems, which have plagued campus buildings in previous years, are the latest facilities issue that students have reported in a semester that has consisted of damages like mold outbreaks and water leaks across campus.

Goodly said Shenkman Hall residents have filed nearly 40 requests for water issues and Amsterdam Hall residents have filed 10 since returning to campus this fall. He said there are no widespread water issues in any residence hall, but officials have responded to individual cases where hot water generators have gone off-line, decreasing hot water availability in the building.

“Once the equipment was reset, domestic hot water temperatures were again stabilized,” he said in an email. “More often, calls for lack of hot water are local, in room issues where shower cartridges have failed. In these instances, replacement of the cartridge reestablished normal hot water temperatures.”

Goodly said officials are in the process of installing a new water control system in Shenkman within the next month, which would allow officials to monitor and troubleshoot water issues more quickly.

He said water shutoffs in Amsterdam Hall have been “largely unrelated” to operational issues but are instead scheduled shutoffs to perform maintenance, like fulfilling an Americans with Disabilities Act request for an accessible shower and installing new laundry equipment. Goodly referred concerns about cloudy water to D.C.’s water quality website, which states oxygen bubbles in pipes are often responsible for cloudy water that comes out of faucets.

“Hot water can sometimes be cloudy due to dissolved gases in the water escaping as the water is heated,” the website states. “Cloudiness and air bubbles should naturally disappear in a few minutes.”

Gabriel Young, a junior living in Amsterdam Hall and a Student Association senator, said he’s faced hot water issues in his room since first moving in this summer.

“They said, ‘Oh, you just have to deal with it. You just have to wait because people are gone from the building,’” Young said. “But even when everyone moved in, the shower still wouldn’t heat up fast enough.”

Young said officials replaced his faucet as a means to solve the issue after he filed two more FixIt reports, but he still has to wait five to 10 minutes for shower water to heat up.

“I just wish GW or even FixIt or the community coordinators would communicate the reasons for the water outages,” he said. “I would love to see them taking accountability for what’s been going on. I would also love to see FixIt communicate better as to when and why they need to fix things the way that they do.”

Sophomore Lauren Grueninger, a resident of Shenkman, said her room has lacked hot water for nearly two weeks. She said she filed a FixIt request after her shower took up to 25 minutes to heat up before the start of the semester, but said officials dismissed it, saying it would improve as other residents moved into the building in August.

“The water had been turned off once and they sent an email, but another time they shut off the hot water with no notice, so when I submitted a FixIt [it] got declined,” Grueninger said in a text message.

Izabella Riccione, a sophomore living in Shenkman, said she and her roommates have had to take cold showers, and water from the faucet has appeared cloudy.

“I couldn’t shower because all we have is cold water,” she said in an email. “My roommates had to take cold showers.”

Riccione said she and her roommates suspected there was mold growth throughout their room after noticing it on their ceiling in early September, and officials evacuated them to a hotel for a week to clean the room. She said the combination of water and mold issues have created a stressful living situation and caused her roommate to suffer serious symptoms of mold-related illness, like stinging eye pain, bleeding from the eye and coughing.

“The whole situation has been extremely stressful and frustrating,” Riccione said. “It feels like they really don’t care about us or the mold and are uninterested in compensating anyone for these problems. All of us are paying outrageous housing prices to live in mold infested dorms. I am not happy.”

Ria Gupta, a sophomore who lives in Shenkman Hall, said she also has experienced problems with poor water pressure and cold water in her dorm.

“My roommate and I have really bad water pressure in comparison to our suitemates, and that’s just been a problem that’s always been there,” Gupta said. “But recently the water just keeps going freezing cold. It will be like three days where we don’t get hot water.”

Gupta said other students in Shenkman dealt with similar water-related issues, reached out to community coordinators and submitted FixIt requests to express their concerns about the water quality. She said her hot water returned last week, but she is worried it may go out again.

“I am going to see if it stays,” she said. “I know I am on the luckier side – for some people it is every other day for them.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.