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Sewage floods UC Davis labs, offices: Experiments disrupted during cleanup in wake of pump glitch By Kevin Yamamura Bee Staff Writer (Published June 20, 2000)

Raw sewage flooded biology laboratories and offices at the University of California, Davis, disrupting research activities and forcing custodial crews to work around the clock over the past two days. A power outage late Saturday afternoon shut down three wastewater pumps, forcing two inches of flooding in the Briggs Hall and Life Sciences basements, officials said.

About 35 laboratories and several dean's offices were damaged. While most undergraduates were unaffected because the semester ended last week, some professors and graduate researchers had their experiments put on hold.

"It's clearly a huge inconvenience for them," said Assistant Dean Dave Shelby, who was cleaning out several administrative offices that were flooded. "We have research being done year-round in those labs. Structural biology, as well as molecular and cellular biology."

Crews pumped out most of the sewage water Saturday night, leaving behind laboratories with damp, wilted tiles and offices with soiled carpets. The smell, as well as most of the carpeting, was gone by Monday.

Damage estimates have yet to be determined, officials said.

Typically, when power shuts down, the wastewater pumps are supposed to restart automatically as an emergency measure. But the controls had been misprogrammed to require manual startup, so the pumps did not resume until the problem had been detected five hours after it began.

Officials expected clean up to finish by Wednesday after crews finish decontaminating floors and surfaces.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 20, 2000

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