Water leak brought no permanent damage to UI building

Water leak brought no permanent damage to UI building

URBANA — Nearly two months after several million gallons of water spilled into the basement of a building under construction on campus, preliminary findings point to no permanent damage to the building's foundation.

A contractor for the University of Illinois was replacing valves in the chilled-water line when a leak occurred, causing an estimated 4 million gallons of water to pool in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, which is currently under construction. The building is just off Wright Street, south of the Beckman Institute and north of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory in Urbana.

The official reason behind the spill and the cost to clean it up are still being determined, according to Christopher Wills, spokesman with the Capital Development Board. The state agency is overseeing construction of the $71 million building. The state has pledged $47.5 million for the building and the university is seeking private money, federal dollars and other sources to finance the rest.

"The preliminary findings are, there's not any permanent damage to the foundation," Wills said. "That's not to say it could turn out there'd be a problem as we go forward, but so far there's no sign of it," he said.

At this time, Wills said there shouldn't be any delay to the construction timetable.

Groundbreaking was held in fall 2011; building completion is estimated for mid-2014. Plans call for the building to be 230,000 square feet and house classrooms, laboratories, meeting rooms and an auditorium.

The chilled-water line work, he said, was peripheral to the construction going on at the time; it was not construction work on the building that caused the problem, according to Wills.

"What I can say is, this happened while work was being done by the university, not by the state or (the Capital Development Board)," Wills said.

The agency's general contractor on the building is Williams Brothers. The university's contractor for the chilled-water line work was A&R Mechanical.

The leak in the chilled-water pipe, along with several feet of water in the building, was discovered on the morning of Jan. 6. Crews spent several days pumping out the water and discharging it to the Urbana Champaign Sanitary District. The building was not occupied, and nothing had been moved in the basement.

The UI's chilled-water system cools buildings throughout the year.