Water problem

Pump failure at Eisenhower puts the start of school in question

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Joshua Stone of Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. of Edinboro prepares to lower himself into a 20,000-gallon water tank at the Eisenhower school campus.

A pump failure at the Eisenhower school campus will require a lot more than a simple repair.

The process of bringing the pump, the associated tank, and the entire water system fully back on line will take more than a week.

But, the repair process should be far enough along to be ready for the start of school on Wednesday.

The pump has to be pulled in order to effect the repairs, according to Superintendent Amy Stewart.

After that, the process involves emptying the 20,000-gallon water tank.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Joshua Stone of Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. of Edinboro prepares to lower himself into a 20,000-gallon water tank at the Eisenhower school campus.

That was done Thursday night.

But the district cannot simply fix the pump, refill the tank and be on its way.

Mineral deposits that build up in any well system have to be removed. Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. of Edinboro handled that work on Friday.

Joshua Stone suited up, including a face mask with a filter system to keep him from breathing particles stirred up by his cleaning, and descended into the tank near the northeast corner of the building.

He scraped off larger deposits, then pressure washed the inside of the tank. A vacuum system took the disturbed deposits out of the tank.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Joshua Stone of Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. of Edinboro climbs down into a 20,000-gallon water tank at the Eisenhower school campus.

Once the inside of the tank is clean of big stuff, officials will introduce chlorine to sanitize it.

District Plumber Jeff Turner said 1,000 gallons of super chlorinated water — 50 parts per million — would be put into the tank.

That solution would be left in for six hours. After that, the tank would be filled the rest of the way with regular chlorinated water, he said. That water, at the diluted chlorine level, would be left for 24 hours.

“Then you have to get the water back out,” Stewart said.

It’s not as easy as running it out through the sewer system. “That would ruin the bacteria” in that system, she said. “It has to go into another tank.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Joshua Stone of Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. of Edinboro climbs down into a 20,000-gallon water tank at the Eisenhower school campus.

“Then you’re allowed to fill it with good water,” Stewart said.

The district has to submit samples of the water at several points in the process.

The results come back after 24 hours, District Quality Assurance Supervisor and Certified Water System Operator Boyd Freeborough said.

Once the numbers of the first test are good, the system is flushed, and the tank refilled.

Then, samples have to be taken from the farthest points in the system, Freeborough said.

Testing will continue until the numbers are satisfactory for toilet use and, eventually, for drinking.

Portable toilets are in place at the school and will continue to be used as needed.

“The expectation is that the water will be flushable by Tuesday,” Freeborough said.

In that case, school would open as expected on Wednesday.

Freeborough said it is possible the water in the school will not test clear for drinking until the first full week of school starting Monday, Sept. 3.

Bottled water will be provided as needed.

Teachers are scheduled to use the building on Monday and Tuesday. Stewart said professional development for Eisenhower teachers would take place at the central office in Russell.

Teachers would then have the option to work in their rooms or at the central office on Tuesday.

“We’ll know more on Tuesday,” Stewart said.

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