By CALEB SLINKARD
Students at LP Waters Early Childhood Center had classes at a different campus for the second time in two weeks, due to odor issues stemming from a sewage leak last week.
On Feb. 24, the students were bussed to Carver Elementary due to a sewage leak beneath LP Waters. According to the city of Greenville, a blockage on the main line and the failure of a check valve resulted in a sewage leak under the school. City officials said that the issue was fixed that Monday.
“Our crews were dispatched to the school and discovered a sewer stoppage on the main line. The school was equipped with a backflow valve or check valve on the sewer service line, which also malfunctioned. This malfunction caused sewerage to back up and leak under the school,” City of Greenville Engineering Superintendent Jerry McDaniel said last week. “Our crews are working with school district staff to evacuate the sewerage under the building, dry up any remaining dampness and sterilize the area.”
GISD spokesperson Kelli Tharp said the district, in conjunction with the city, sanitized the building twice before allowing students back into the building on Feb. 26.
No air quality test was conducted until March 5, however, when an increase in odor following the ice storm prompted the school district to ask the city to conduct an air quality test. According to the city, the test came back completely clear.
After a media request from the Herald-Banner on Thursday, the city conducted a second air quality test on Thursday, which also came back clear.
“We would never put the students in an unsafe building,” Tharp said. “As we demonstrated [on Feb. 24 when we pulled them out of class], we are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of them.”
Thursday, the school district informed parents that LP Waters students would be transported to Carver for classes today.
“Due to a lingering odor, school will be conducted at Carver tomorrow, March 7, out of an abundance of caution,” Tharp said in a press release Thursday evening. “The safety and security of our children is of upmost concern. The school district will be meeting with a restoration and remediation specialist tonight and will work with the specialist to completely remedy the situation over spring break.”
The school district and remediation specialist were unable to specify what work needed to be done over spring break.
Tharp said the district planned for the LP Waters students to have classes at Carver because the district wanted the remediation specialist to get a jump start on their work. She also said there was no disruption when holding classes in Carver for both groups of students.
City of Greenville spokesperson Autumn Barton said the main line blockage was cleared on Feb. 24, but the malfunctioning valve was the school district’s responsibility.
She said the city helped put down hydrated lime underneath the building on Feb. 25, and at some point following the leak the city helped the school district reconnect a pump underneath the building. GISD placed additional lime under the building on March 4.
Tharp emphasized the city had been very helpful during the entire process, and Barton indicated the city and school district had been communicating regularly over the past week and a half.