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Sources: Abe Fattaey, 785-532-1725,;
and Ed Heptig, 785-532-1700,
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415,

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009


MANHATTAN -- They're leaky and 80 years old, but they are depended on to provide hot water throughout the year and steam for heat in the winter at Kansas State University.

That's why keeping the steam pipes serving the southwest corner of the K-State campus working is critical to daily university operations.

Now, with federal stimulus funds awarded to the university through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the pipes' much-needed replacement is to be bid this fall and work could start as early as spring 2010.

The project is one from a long list of maintenance work deferred over the years because of inadequate state funding of Kansas Board of Regents' institutions.

For 2009, K-State officials are expecting $2.3 million in stimulus funds to support infrastructure projects, the first of which will be the steam pipes – a project they'd like to get done before the pipes deteriorate to the point that the educational mission of the university is affected.

"Interruption in the flow of steam to facilities located in the southwest corner of our campus could stop scheduled teaching, research and other educational programs planned for those buildings," said Abe Fattaey, K-State's director of facilities planning and university architect.

"The university also is taking steps to be as sustainable as possible," he said. "Replacing these leaky steam pipes help us to stop wasting steam and will save energy. The steam pipe replacement also will help the structural life cycle and safety of K-State's underground steam tunnels."

The project consists of replacing long lengths of pipe that stretch from roughly the Power Plant down to the K-State Student Union and Memorial Stadium. Buildings served by this project include Durland, Fiedler, Rathbone and Seaton halls; Ahearn Field House and the Natatorium; the K-State Student Union; and the offices and classrooms in East and West Stadium.

"Without steam, buildings could freeze up in the winter, which means we could have major flood issues or water damage," said Ed Heptig, K-State's director of facilities maintenance "That can lead to mold and other potentially unsafe conditions."

The steam leaks mean that the temperature and humidity in the tunnels is variable. So not only is the existing system not very energy efficient, but it also could affect other systems on campus. Also running in those tunnels are several telecommunications cables, the cables for the campus fire alarm system and the cables controlling class bells, Heptig said.

Also, much of the food on campus is prepared in the K-State Student Union and steam is what provides hot water to clean dishes and perform other sanitary operations. No steam could make cleaning up quite a chore.

K-State is scheduled to receive an additional $5.6 million in stimulus funds to work on more critical infrastructure projects in 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus bill, included about $21.5 billion for federal research and development. The program includes large increases in federal support for research, education, job development, infrastructure and many other areas vital to K-State.