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St. Lawrence Central experiences middle, high school water issues

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BRASHER FALLS - The St. Lawrence Central School District plans to drill a new well for its middle and high school earlier than anticipated after they began experiencing problems with the water following an earthquake earlier this month in Quebec.

Superintendent Steven M. Putman said they had planned to drill a new well as part of their upcoming capital project, but that project is being moved up after the middle and high school began experiencing discoloration of their water and a funny smell. That began on Nov. 6 after the early morning quake in Quebec.

“We’ve been working with the Health Department ever since,” he said.

They completed a standardized test first, which Mr. Putman said came back negative for bacteria and coliform. Then the Health Department “started doing a broader of array of tests,” he said.

“I sent a letter home to parents last Friday explaining what we were doing. After school got out yesterday, we got word on part of the array of tests we had done. They showed a level of glycol higher than the regulatory standard in the well water,” Mr. Putman said.

He emphasized the problem was only with the middle and high school well, which was located inside the building, and did not impact the elementary school, which has its own well.

“The water at the elementary has remained fine and clear. It tested perfect, no problems,” he said.

On the recommendation of the Department of Health, Mr. Putman said students at the middle and high school have been advised not to use the water to wash their hands or take a shower. The district is providing bottled water and put a sign on drinking fountains to let students know not to use them.

They’re also using bottled water for cooking and other activities in the building that require water, he said.

In addition, they’re ensuring that the problem is isolated to the middle and high school, according to the superintendent, who said the elementary school and bus garage are heated using water from the middle and high school.

“Public Health was here (Tuesday). They did tests to make sure we weren’t introducing the problems internally. In those heat loops you add glycol to the water to make sure it doesn’t freeze,” he said.

However, he said, testing showed that the problem was strictly at the middle and high school.

Now, Mr. Putman said, they’re still waiting for the results of more testing, and they’ve sought permission from the state Education Department to move up a well replacement project that was going to be done in their upcoming capital project.

“We were originally going to connect the well here to well at the elementary so they could back each other up. That turned out to be too expensive. Because the well here is inside, we decided instead of connecting the two wells we would drill a new well during the project,” he said.

Mr. Putman said they’re working with the district’s architectural firm and engineers to get SED approval to move ahead with drilling the new well. Although they haven’t yet heard back from SED, he said their architects have said the project will be a go.

School is closed until Monday for the Thanksgiving break, but they’re already making provisions for when students and staff return.

“Sometime in the next few days we will be drilling a new well. Until we get a new well, we’ll be providing bottled water for the students. We may still be on bottled water for a while next week,” he said.

How long it will take to drill a new well depends on how deep they have to go to reach water, Mr. Putman said.

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