Blocked pipes may be to blame for a California high school’s third instance of sewage flooding in a newly renovated locker room since August.
Milpitas High School opened the school year Aug. 13, but its newly renovated physical education locker and restrooms have had issues with sewage three times already this year.
The first time, sewage seeped out of a floor drain in the boys locker room. Students were not yet dressing for PE classes, and school officials closed the locker room.
The second time, sewage flowed from drains in the shower and bathroom areas of the girls locker room. Students got dressed for PE away from that area.
Most recently, sewage came up in the boys bathroom area, and disrupted PE classes for the rest of the day.
Kristina Edwards, a physical education teacher at the school, told the Milpitas Post that she hasn’t seen anything like this in her 18 years at the school.
“By the third time, we decided our protocol was to close the locker room, and the kids were not going to be allowed to change,” she said. “We said enough is enough, we are not going to allow kids to be in the area where there is potential sewage.”
Despite being newly renovated, the locker and bathroom areas did not get new underground piping. Joe Flatley, district director of facilities modernization, said that new pipes would have become prohibitively expensive.
“Please note that these sewer pipes are original and under the existing floor slab,” he said. “We are working to track down any other potential blockages before they occur.”
Assistant principal Hilary Brittan said that the sewage pipes did not burst. The issue is thought to be related to clogs and blockages, and the pipes were snaked.
“The clogs may have been related to issues not near this building at all,” Flatley said.
Superintendent Cary Matsuoka said that the renovation was particularly challenging.
“Remodeling the high school locker rooms is a tough project because it has water, tile and bathrooms and locker rooms, they get used really hard,” Matsuoka said.