Water seepage a sign of school’s condition

Water seeped up on the floor of classroom no. 121 in the north wing of South Elementary near the end of a school day in late October when there was a Halloween party going on in the school.

The water seeped out about four feet out from a wall, according to night lead custodian Monica Wolf. She vacuumed up the water, then applied fresh water to the wet spot and vacuumed again.

The amount of water that had seeped up was about two gallons, according to district building and grounds coordinator Keith Barlage. He said last week that he and custodial workers tried after classes were over on that Halloween party day, to determine where the water had originated. He said the test was done by pouring water into all the sinks at the school, but the leak did not occur again.

The likely reason for the water seepage, Barlage said last week, is that the plumbing is old in the 58-year-old building and its occupancy far exceeds what it was designed for. That, combined with unused milk being poured down the sink drains all those years can corrode galvanized pipes, especially weaker points such as where pipes are threaded together, he said.

The school was “packed” on the day of the Halloween party and with all the kids and a large number of parents in the building for the party, more water was going down sinks than usual, Barlage said. It could have been that something got down the drain and caused a plug, pressuring water to back up and find a weak point, he added. Then, when custodians tried to replicate the situation to find the leak source, the plug might have dissipated, he said.

“The building is old and wearing out,” Barlage added.