Electrical power supplied directly from Westar is distributed at 12,470 volts to the buildings on campus. Transformers located near most buildings further step down electricity to 480, 277, 208, and 120 volts.

As transformers are taken out of service because of age, malfunction, or obsolescence, they are replaced by ones with similar capacity that are owned by Westar. All transformers owned by the university have been tested by an Environmental Protection Agency approved laboratory for the concentration of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl's). PCBs are a family of 209 manufactured chlorinated organic chemicals widely used in electrical equipment. Because of their toxicity, PCBs are regulated by the EPA. Transformers containing concentrations of PCBs greater than 500 PPM (parts per million) are no longer allowed near public buildings. All transformers containing PCBs in concentrations greater than 500 PPM have been removed from campus and disposed of by a licensed contractor according to federal regulations.

Steam Tunnel Distribution

Steam is distributed through a system of tunnels beneath the campus. Pipes in the tunnels transport steam throughout the main campus. Temperature of the pipes runs high as 300 degrees F. and therefore present a danger to anyone who is not trained to work in these tunnels.

Air temperatures reach as high as 180 degrees F. in some of the tunnels during normal operations. The temperatures are allowed to become high because complete ventilation would be a waste of heating energy.

The Physical Plant has a policy of never allowing a worker to negotiate a steam tunnel alone. Only experienced workers may service a steam tunnel. They must know where the exits are, where the access doors are, and have keys to get through these passages. Anyone not familiar with the tunnels runs the risk of being trapped in a dead-end or a passage blocked by a locked door. A person trapped in the tunnel faces serious consequences if a steam pipe ruptures and releases high pressure steam.

Because of building security, Physical Plant must lock access doors between the buildings and the tunnels to prevent unauthorized access. This creates a dangerous situation for anyone without keys. The Physical Plant therefore prohibits unauthorized persons in the tunnels.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is distributed throughout the campus for use in laboratories and for heating equipment.

The gas is purchased from a wholesale company and delivered by Westar. It is distributed through a university-owned gas system to the buildings using it. There is no charge made for this gas to departments using it except for Auxiliary Services.

Water & Sewage

Water for the campus is purchased from the City of Pittsburg at a usable pressure so that it is not necessary to "re-pump" the water to maintain working pressure.

The university has adopted a policy of strict adherence to city pretreatment ordinances that specify substances that cannot be poured or flushed down the sanitary sewer. A copy of this ordinance is on file at the Physical Plant and has been distributed to all departments.

Tests have been conducted to identify any potential cross-connection between the storm and sanitary sewer that could cause mixing of sewage and runoff during periods of heavy rainfall. None have been identified, and any backup of water is considered to result from hydraulic overload in the city's nearby interceptor sewer.

The sewer system on campus is owned by the university and maintained by the Physical Plant. Sewage from the campus is discharged into the city sewage system at the perimeter of the campus. The university pays a monthly charge to the city for handling sewage.

Manholes on Campus

There are manholes located throughout the campus, serving a variety of uses.  Only authorized and trained personnel are allowed to enter manholes.

Underground Utilities

Most utilities on the university campus are underground. These include electricity, natural gas lines, telephone lines, telecommunication lines, water lines, sewer lines, an steam tunnels

Under no circumstances should anyone drive a stake, rod, or pointed object into the ground on campus. There is always the danger of hitting a buried utility line.