DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The cause of plugged toilets and sewage backing up into the school showers at the new SeDoMoCha Elementary School has been traced to pipes that were not sloped correctly when installed and to a broken sewer pipe underneath a cement floor, a school official said Saturday.
SAD 68 Superintendent Ann Bridge said one of the toilets had plugged up earlier this fall so a local plumber was asked to scope out the system to find the problem. A camera was threaded through the pipes which showed the pipes were not sloped correctly and that one pipe was broken, she said.
Bowman Brothers, the general contractor from Newport, was immediately notified, according to Bridge. “Clearly, this was nothing we had done, this is something that existed from construction,” she said.
Bridge said school officials had hoped to wait until summer to get the repairs done since the work involves removing the cement atrium floor in the finished school. Heavy equipment also will be needed inside the school to make the repairs, she said.
“Even though we closed most of the bathrooms we were continuing to have problems with backups and so it become really clear we couldn’t wait any longer to get it fixed,” Bridge said.
Kevin Bowman, president of Bowman Brothers, said Saturday that workers were at the school Saturday to correct the problem and he expected the work would be completed by the resumption of school on Jan. 5.
“We’ve worked with our plumbing and earthwork subcontractors and the state plumbing inspector and determined there is a malfunction pipe under hallway 102 [in the new section of the school],” Bowman said. He said his subcontractor’s insurance company has accepted responsibility for the repairs. A written plan to address how the repairs will be made over Christmas break has been submitted to SAD 68 officials, he said.
Bridge said other construction issues also will be addressed during the school vacation.
Some kitchen drains are at the wrong height so water does not run into them, which creates odors from the trap and some traps in a boys’ bathroom on the far end of the elementary school are not working, so they will need to be replaced, she said.
‘This is all being done at the contractor’s expense. There’s no additional expense to the taxpayers,” Bridge said. “The board has been insistent about that. We didn’t do this and we’re not going to pay for it.”
The company also is expected to deal with all associated costs like the extra heat used while the front doors are open during the project, the cost of the local plumber who did the scoping and any damage the workers do to the building or the grounds during the project, according to Bridge..
“They’ve been put on notice that they’ll be liable for all the damages that might be associated as well,” Bridge said. She said directors were insistent that they receive a plan with a written time schedule from the company. ‘There have been a number of problems. There are some that are still unresolved that we continue to work on,” she said.
Even though the warranty period ended in August for most of the construction work, Bridge said the district earlier had served notice to the contractor that there were issues that still had to be fixed and resolved.
“It’s been a very slow and frustrating process because it’s consumed a great deal of time of our people,” Bridge said of the problems. She said the technology coordinator, the head of maintenance and she have had to focus much time addressing these issues when their time should have been spent on other education matters.
Bowman said he recognized the frustration. “We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused,” he said.