You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Burst water pipe causes flooding at North Quad on University of Michigan campus

By Kyle Feldscher


Water pours into North Quad through a burst water pipe Thursday morning.

Courtesy of Keya Patel

Editor's note: Update: Officials are now reporting there were 32 students displaced. According to original reports, it was believed 100 students were displaced by the flooding.

A broken water pipe spilled water throughout the North Quadrangle dormitory Thursday morning and University of Michigan officials are still determining the extent of the damage.


A burst water pipe caused flooding at U-M's North Quad Thursday morning. file photo

University of Michigan Police spokeswoman Diane Brown said the incident began about 10:40 a.m. Thursday when a pipe burst in a stairwell. She said the pipe was connected to the building’s fire suppression system and proceeded to send water cascading to lower floors.

“The water drains down and a lot of water was released before they were able to get the pumps turned off,” she said.

The residence tower was closed and classes in the building were canceled Thursday.

University of Michigan Plant Operations and other crews were at the residence hall, 105 S. State St., Thursday morning to clean up the building and determine what caused the burst pipe.

It’s unknown exactly what caused the pipe to break at this point. Brown said it’s unlikely that the pipe was broken by a person in the stairwell.

“(Residents) are not typically rambunctious on a Thursday morning,” she said.

Brown said students' rooms may have been affected by the flooding but the extent of the damage wasn’t clear as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Jeff MacKie-Mason, dean of the U-M School of Information, sent an email to the school community stating The Ehrlicher Room in North Quad sustained major damage in the flooding.

"We will not be able to use it for some time, perhaps several month (the ceilings may need to be replaced, walls may need repair, the carpet and our extensive electronics equipment may need replacement)," MacKie-Mason wrote in the email.

Brown said more information on the flooding should be released later Thursday.

View Larger Map

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

this is to be expected in a 200 year old university.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Yeah, they can forget about having me donate any money. $175 million, to make the place look like a 130 year old Ivy League building. Really? At least make it look modern and nice, and from looking at the shows on TV, that's not very expensive. When I went there, in general, it seemed like the school had so much money, it didn't know what to do with it. Even worse, they had the gall to keep raising tuition.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

"(Residents) are not typically rambunctious on a Thursday morning," she said." is about the most poorly thought out statement from an "official" for a University that I've ever hear. So, we are to surmise from this that there are some days/times that her students are likely to cause major destruction to the building? Why would she even say that. If I were a resident of that dorm I would be incensed that that type of statement was made. It also speaks to how the University Police Department thinks about the students they are there to protect. Also, this is a time to make jokes?


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

"So, we are to surmise from this that there are some days/times that her students are likely to cause major destruction to the building? " Yes. If you lived/worked anywhere near a dorm, this would be self-evident.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Tom- I asked Diane if it was possible that the damage was done by a student or was vandalism. Anyone who has lived in a college dorm can tell you that there are some activities that go on in hallways and other areas that can potentially damage university property. I think Diane's response was fair.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Kyle--aren't there any comments by the affected students? I imagine they'll have plenty of choice quotes about the university's infrastructure. I've gotta love some of Diane Brown's comments: "[Residents] aren't usually rambunctious on Thurday morning" As opposed to Saturday nights, when they typically pull the plumbing out of the walls.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

BlueEyesGirl, I thought the same thing. You can't get anything by these U of M people.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

I like how she tells us that 'water drains down"...

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

halflight - Unfortunately, we're a little short-staffed this week. I haven't got a chance to go out and speak to any of the students, but as Cole noted, we should have some reaction soon.

Cole Bertsos

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

@halflight - We have a reporter out talking to students now and should have a story up with that information soon.

Jenn McKee

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

That photo speaks volumes. Yikes. Wondering what will happen to the students whose rooms are affected. Having suffered a bad basement flood in my house earlier this year, I feel for them...


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

The picture from this reddit'er speaks volumes also, literally.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Looks like the "high quality" off shore fire suppression parts are holding up as expected!


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

That's basically a brand-new building, isn't it?

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Correct fjord, as ffej440 mentioned it opened in 2010. Here's a link from our story at the time:


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Opened Aug. 2010. Cost 175 Million.Took 3yrs to build


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5 p.m.

If the damage is a result of the plumbers or pipefitters negligence, does the union foot the bill, or the taxpayers?

Howard Beale

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:13 p.m. will likely be paid for by the contractor's general liability insurance (for completed operations), if they are deemed at fault. I'm sure there will be a lot of finger pointing between the University, architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers before it is finally resolved.

An Arborigine

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

A lovely water feature and at a fraction of the cost of the City Hall water fountain


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 10:21 a.m.

But the city hall fountain has "The Bridge" traversing its' mighty torrent.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

I suspect the cleanup and repair will cost as much as the city's water fountain.