Crews Work to Find Cause of Leak on P.J.’s Property
Crews on Monday dig to find the source of a leak on P.J. Jacob’s property on Michigan Avenue. (City-Times photo)
Crews at Junior High Find Disconnected Water Pipe Leaking From 20 Feet Below
By Sara Marls
Don Keck said when he first heard about a possible underground leak at P.J. Jacob’s Junior High School, he never imagined digging a 20 x 20 hole alongside Michigan Avenue.
“We realized water was coming up through the ground,” said Keck, building and grounds director for the Stevens Point Area Public School District.
“We started digging, thinking we’ve got a leak in our roof drain that went under the ground there. The whole got bigger and bigger, and we had to bring in bigger equipment, and eventually found out that pipe was about 20 feet down,” Keck said. “When we got to it, sure enough- it was leaking from one section.”
Keck said Roto Rooter was called into the clean out the other end of the pipe running to the street, but that’s when the project hit an interesting glitch.
“More rock and sand kept coming out of the pipe- then we realized it wasn’t even connected to anything,” he said.
According to Keck, the roof drains at P.J.’s work by collecting water from the flat roof and sending it through a series of pipes in the center of the building and then underground, where it eventually empties into the city’s storm sewer near the roadway. He said he couldn’t tell how long the pipe had been disconnected but it was “long enough” for the water to seep upwards from 20 feet below the surface.
Though the cause of the disconnect may never be determined with certainty, Keck said it’s possible the pipe was disconnected when crews rebuilt Michigan Avenue in 2012.
“I don’t want to point fingers. But right now the pipe isn’t going to anything,” Keck said. “Did the city do it; or was it always like that, which I seriously doubt. It appears when that street was redone, we were disconnected. But we don’t know anything yet.”
Stevens Point Public Works Director Scott Schatschneider said Keck sent his staff the blueprints for the school on Tuesday afternoon. City crews would convene on Wednesday morning to go over those drawings, along with data from the Michigan Avenue reconstruction project, to determine how the pipes became disconnected.
“Right now the contractor has that area stabilized, so there’s nothing dangerous there,” Schatschneider said. “As far as repairs go, if we have to do something in the street, we wouldn’t tackle that until after school got out.”
Area schools finish the semester on June 6.
Keck said P.J.’s is the oldest building in the public school district, constructed in 1936. By comparison, McDill Elementary is the next oldest, having been built in the 1950’s.
“The plans from 1936 show that drain going to the city storm sewer,” Keck said. “We’re working with the city to try and figure out what’s going on.”
Keck said the hole has been filled in for now, and any water coming from the roof drains will simply run into the sandy soil on the property. He added the structure and its foundation is not in any danger.
“That school was built like a tank,” he said.