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BRIEF: Update on the pipe leak in the Fairhaven Complex

WWU Facilities has discovered the source of this smelly problem

A sign posted on a gate outside of The Outback Farm on Western Washington University’s campus on Dec. 5, 2023. The sign reads, “Caution: Sewage contamination in waterways. Avoid contact, keep pets away. If contact occurs, wash thoroughly.” // Photo by Olivia Marty 

New developments have come out regarding the pipe leak in the Fairhaven Complex on Western Washington University’s campus. 

A hole in the sewage pipe under stack three of the Fairhaven dorms was found when scoping, and it is believed this is the major source of the leak, said Amanda Cambre, the director of facilities management at Western. 

Since the leak was discovered, Western Facilities has done a substantial amount of testing to find the source of the leak as it was their top priority, Cambre said. They started with largely unsuccessful dye tests, then shifted to scoping with a camera through the pipes under each stack in the dorms. 

“We stopped scoping and pivoted to go repair that since we found it," Cambre said. "Now we have to go stop it.” 

After repairing the hole, Western Facilities is shifting its focus on the other pipes, which are degraded. 

“The pipes under stacks one, two, three and five are slated for immediate repair. They are degraded in a way that we're concerned about, they are seeping slowly and five has root intrusion,” Cambre said.   


A poster outside of the Fairhaven College Building on Western Washington University’s campus on Dec. 5, 2023. The poster confirms the presence of the leak and promises further communications regarding repairs. // Photo by Olivia Marty

Pipes in stacks nine through 12 have yet to be scoped for degradation but Western Facilities is pushing to repair all of them, making it so the old pipes are lined with a seal that will last about 50 years, Cambre said. However, Western Facilities has put this high on their capital list for a permanent repair to ensure that another leak doesn’t happen again. 

For repairs to be made, the water will have to be shut off in the Fairhaven Complex. 

“We send our notice out to the residents that water could be turned off for one or two days,” Cambre said. “We notify them once we have [repairs] scheduled.” 

Students living in the area should check their emails routinely, as work on this project will begin in December. 

The patched hole in the sewage pipe under stack three has led to major improvements in water quality. 

“The pond at the Outback is clear," Cambre said. "It's no longer milky and terrible smelling.” 

Western Facilities is grateful to have found an obvious problem and get it fixed, Cambre said. 

“This was a good outcome, all things considered,” Cambre said. 

Olivia Marty

Olivia Marty (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front. She is a sophomore majoring in public relations journalism. In her spare time, Olivia loves going thrifting, watching documentaries, and crafting. She can be reached at

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