“Part of our 20 million dollar capital improvement program is prioritizing pipes based on a number of different factors for either upgrading or total replacement and those factors can range from type of pipe, soil that it’s in, the location, how many customers is serves” said Linda Low, OWASA spokesperson. “The pipe that broke this year just didn’t fit those requirements.”
OWASA assures customers that their priority is to make the system more resilient, and said they have hired a consulting agency to make sure their practices are the most efficient and effective. Low also said OWASA will be meeting with Chapel Hill community partners, such as UNC Hospitals, to make sure they are serving them in the best way possible.
However, not everyone is happy with this promise.
“So much water and money was lost due to something that should have been prevented by consistent maintenance and checking,” UNC student Nicole Toms said.
Toms said she wishes OWASA would take their job more seriously and take preemptive measures rather than waiting for disasters to happen.
During what students called “Aquapocalypse 2.0," UNC Housing asked students to limit their water use. Granville Towers and UNC Housing brought portable toilets for students to use.
Apart from these effects, class cancellations were also an issue for students. While some cheered that their Monday afternoon and Tuesday classes were cancelled, others were disappointed. Chemistry 101 labs that had their final reviews scheduled for Monday and Tuesday did not get to have the same preparation that other Wednesday-Friday labs had.
Professors, in trying to make up for time lost, changed lesson plans, cut sections from exams and revised their syllabi. Sutton Cavalchire, a UNC sophomore in CMPL 250, said the professor sent out a fourth version of the class syllabus after the water crisis.
“After the water crisis in my CMPL 250 class, my professor actually chose to rewrite the syllabus for the remaining weeks of class, even getting rid of an entire reading," Cavalchire said. “It was honestly very helpful and got rid of some of the stress I was having about all the work we would have to do in order to catch up.”
While students, professors and residents of Chapel Hill adapted to the demands of the past two water crises, the event has still disrupted the community.
OWASA said it plans to work hard to keep the community and stakeholders informed and engaged as well as being open and transparent about what happened in November.