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Sewage backup closes theater

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Layla Abbas
LV Life Editor

Faculty and students were allowed back into Dailey Theatre Wednesday after two sewage backups prompted evacuation, carpet replacement and air quality assessments over the past month.

The first backup occurred Aug. 20 and caused damage to all offices in the theater.

“The flooding covered the whole floor so anything that was on the floor that could soak up the sewage was damaged, whether it was valuable or not,” said Alma Martinez, associate professor of theater.

Martinez said everyone returned to the theater two days after the first backup but questioned the air quality.

“The air was really thick with humidity so we asked to have an air quality test and that is when they said the air quality still is not right so we got out of our offices again.”

Provost Jonathan Reed worked with facilities management and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Lawrence Potter to assess the damage and conduct additional air quality tests.

The addition of Citrus Hall to the University’s existing sewage system created an excess of sewage matter, resulting in the backup, Reed said.

An additional air quality test revealed high levels of contaminants in Martinez’s room.

“We immediately shut down the theater and cleaned everything up,” Reed said. “Right before it was ready to be occupied again, the sewer backed up one more time.”

The second leak occurred Sept. 20, prompting the replacement of a broken valve, another installation of carpet and additional air quality tests.

“When you test for contamination you can’t just test for one day because if there is contamination, it takes a few days to develop,” Reed said. “The test itself takes two days to process and ensure everything is clean.”

The valve has been replaced and the problem should be permanently fixed, Reed said.

Martinez said it has not been easy finding alternative classrooms considering the limited space on campus, but everyone has been cooperative.

“We have been hopping around using other people’s classrooms,” Martinez said. “Students have been very patient and fortunately the weather has been nice so we have had acting classes outside.”

Layla Abbas can be reached at

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