From the Queens Chronicle:
York College has been plagued with a flooding problem that administrators fear may shut down a large portion of the campus, if a permanent solution is not found.
The college has been working with the City University of New York and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to come up with a plan — one that school officials proposed at a Community Board 12 meeting on Wednesday. Attendees, however, were skeptical about the plan, fearing that it would increase flooding problems at nearby residential homes and spur rodent infestation.
In 2004, during an unrelated project to install new boilers in the Academic Core Building, the college discovered that water was pouring into the sub-basement.
The 75,000-square foot building is the principal administrative and academic facility on the campus and it provides power for itself along with two adjacent buildings — the Health and Physical Education Building and the Performing Arts Center. The three buildings are also designated as Office of Emergency Management shelter locations for the South Jamaica community.
“The electrical conduits that bring energy from Con Edison to the building are under the slab and therefore the college runs the risk of losing its electrical supply at any moment,” Ronald Thomas, dean of administrative affairs at York explained. “If that happens, three of the buildings, which conduct 70 percent of all activity on campus would be lost, until we could make repairs.”
The other problem is that employees who are responsible for performing maintenance on the engineering plant in the sub-basement must walk through two or three feet of water to conduct their business in an environment that is electrically charged. Also, persistent water can lead to mold exposure.
Channels along with sumps and pumps currently carry the water to a combined sewer, for which York has a temporary DEP discharge permit. However, the agency has told the college that it will not renew the permit and has asked that officials find a permanent solution, compelling York “to move forward rather aggressively,” Thomas said.
York College has a deep basement — 30 feet below the street level, which is typical of large structures. The average residential basement is eight to 10 feet below ground. Over a million gallons of water must be pumped out of York’s sub-basement daily in order to keep it dry and support the regular operation of the campus.