Fire Systems Failure at Iowa Capitol Could Cost More Than $700,000

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - It will likely cost more than $700,000 to clean and repair damage caused by a water leak at the Capitol, lawmakers said.

A break in a pipe in the building's sprinkler system sent 2,000 gallons of water through the ceilings and walls on Christmas Eve.

The cost of sopping up the water and drying out rooms is likely to top $150,000. Damage that's already been found will cost $580,000 to fix, and more damage is likely to be discovered as the drying continues, officials said.

The Capitol was built in the late 1800s but underwent a restoration project that was completed last year. Areas included in the renovation were damaged including carpets, paint and plaster. It could take several years for wet plaster to dry completely, officials said.

The possibility that a contractor was at fault was raised Wednesday by capitol officials. The state, which is self-insured, could be reimbursed if it's determined the contractor was at fault.

The leak went undetected for 45 minutes, prompting one lawmaker to question security in the Capitol.

"This could be a total disaster ... if people of devious means wanted to destroy this place," said Rep. Joseph Hutter, R-Bettendorf.

Officers are on duty in the Capitol 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Betsy Dittemore, a Department of Public Safety representative. The officer in the building on Christmas Eve responded within 30 seconds to alarms triggered by the water leak, she said.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,