Brown Water Mystery Forces Officials to Shut IAB Pool

The Indoor Athletic Building's pool will be closed for at least two days following the appearance of brown water yesterday morning, officials said.

The pool was evacuated at 10:30 yesterday when the discolored water began pouring in through a pipe that normally pumps fresh water to the pool.

"I suspect it's not a bacterial problem--it's probably just some rust in the pipes," said Jessie Norton, a sanitation inspector for University Health Services (UHS). Norton said it would take two days to complete tests of the pool's water, and that Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of UHS, would then decide when to reopen the pool.

Wacker explained that "it's not reasonable to take the risk of bacterial contamination," although he said bacteria probably did not cause the problem. "They were testing the fire hydrants outside and I think that Lowell House is experiencing similar problems with its water," he added.

Laurel E. White '84, who was swimming in the pool when the brown water appeared, said "there was this brown water pouring out of one end of the pool. I was really frightened--it was, you know, like jaws."

Over 200 people are enrolled in a variety of swimming classes at the IAB, said Ahee McCabe, director of aquatic activities. In addition, many recreational swimmers use the IAB pool every day.

We're in a community where everyone exercises," said McCabe. "Everyone gets frustrated when the pool has to close like this."

Chlorine Leak

Two years ago a leaking chlorine pipe caused the IAB to be evacuated, and seven people were hospitalized overnight. Cambridge firemen and police shut off the leak and evacuated both the IAB and Lowell House.

Officials gave different accounts of the cause of that leak, ranging from a deteriorated chlorine pipe to a rupture as a result of changing the chlorine tank.