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Western’s Fairhaven Complex sewer project expected to be completed this summer

Final phase to begin soon; every pipe in Fairhaven to be lined as a proactive measure

Exposed pipes outside Western Washington University's Fairhaven’s stack eight building lay surrounded by cones and chain-link fences on April 18, 2024. Repairs required the building’s water to be temporarily shut off. // Photo by Austin Wright

Ongoing repairs to the sewer lines in the Fairhaven Complex finally have an end in sight. The comprehensive plan is expected to be finished this summer, according to Western Washington University construction coordinator, Andy Hanson. 

In November, fetid smells emanated from a sewage leak that was later discovered to have originated from around Fairhaven’s stack three, as reported by The Front.

The repairs have caused inconvenience for residents, with frequent backups and disruptions to daily life in the complex.

Crews are currently wrapping up the second phase of installing additional lining repairs between stacks four and eight in the complex, Hanson said.

Hanson, who co-leads two teams of five workers, organized the project into three phases to minimize the impact construction would have on Fairhaven’s approximately 550 residents, where about 14% of people living on campus reside.

Water shut-offs persisted throughout the school year as students living in Fairhaven received email notification alerts days prior. The most recent water shut-off came on April 17 as repairs around stack eight began.

Stack eight required a node tie-in on April 17, where two or more sewer lines come together, Hanson explained. He expects disruptions like this to continue until the pipelines are finished through the summer months.

Kylee Bronson is a student who lives in the Fairhaven dorms. During a snowstorm in January, Bronson and her friends would walk about 15 minutes to the Viking Union dining hall as the Fairhaven Commons temporarily closed its doors while it grappled with a pipe burst in the facility.

“We would try to be stretching our meals…it was closed for like a week, so we were having to hike up constantly to get food,” Bronson said.

Lining all the pipe wings in Fairhaven poses a difficult challenge for workers as the pipes are too deep to dig up, said Amanda Cambre, the director of facilities management at Western.

“Typically those pipes are buried at a diggable level, not where you need shoring—because it’s so deep that you have to protect people from being crushed by the earth,” Cambre said.

Hanson said the project was immediately paused for further investigation when they found an unmarked pipe from the late 1970s when Fairhaven’s buildings were initially constructed.

“There’s a lot of construction, it feels. Like every morning at eight or nine I wake up to some construction going on,” Bronson said. “Which is a little bit of a bummer, because it kind of wakes you up so you can’t sleep in a whole lot…I would say for people [who] have late nights that that would probably be super hard.”

In an update posted in early April on buildings in the Fairhaven Complex, Hanson expressed gratitude for the patience and cooperation granted for “disruptions caused by the work.”  

Hanson and his team anticipate a sense of accomplishment when they finally finish their work near the dorms.

“There’s definitely going to be a celebration,” Hanson said. “The system that we’re using and the team that we’re using—we’re seeing incredible successes on the portions that we’ve done. This will give us an incredible leap forward in terms of being able to not worry about the areas that we’ve done.”

Austin Wright

Austin Wright (he/him) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a second-year journalism/news ed major. When he’s not reporting, you can find him playing ultimate frisbee, watching soccer or hiking. You can reach him at

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