Sewage problems develop in Library-Science Building

Students with classes in the Library-Science (LS) Building may have noticed a change in the building lately—a mysterious odor emanating from the bowels of the building.

Principal Eric Fredericks explains what this smelly culprit is.

“What is going on is in the LS Building there is a ‘step’ kind of septic system. It is an intermediate septic collection area in which the sewage goes. There are pumps on that collection system that then pumps the sewage into the sewer,” Fredericks said. “One of the pumps has failed and when it rains a lot, there are changes in the water table which can cause things to rise faster than they otherwise would. Because one of the pumps has failed, things were filling too fast and the catch area—the basin—and running backward up a pipe so it was back filling.”

The smell, most prominent around the elevator shaft in the building, was treated with a deodorizer to remove it. As of Thursday, the smell is no longer present.

After hand-pumping the pipe on Wednesday to remove the backflow and eliminate any future odor, it was replaced Thursday. While this is believed to fix the septic system, another issue arose while fixing the problem at hand.

“It does turn out that there is—they believe—a leak in the pipe way back up but their belief is that if they fix the pump, that they will be able to keep the sewage pumping regularly and it will not backflow anymore,” Fredericks said. “What their plan is then is to send a camera up the pipe once they have everything fixed, check where the leak officially is and then hopefully this summer—assuming we have no more problems with pumps—fix the pipe…because it is under the concrete floor of the LS Building in the middle of the LS Building. It would significantly disrupt classes in that building if we were to try and fix it [during the school year].”
Although the smell may be a source of discomfort to students and staff who spend time in the building, the leak does not raise any health concerns.

“It is not a large enough leak to cause any health concerns—it is not a large enough leak to cause any other concerns but it does certainly smell bad,” Fredericks said.