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Thornton: Warwick Vets Jr. High Septic Backup Puddle Cleaned, Dance Still On

[CREDIT: Courtesy Submission] A photo from inside the Occupational/Physical Therapy room, where a septic backup caused a puddle that was cleaned and disinfected.
[CREDIT: Courtesy Submission] A photo from inside the Occupational/Physical Therapy room, where a septic backup caused a puddle that was cleaned and disinfected.
WARWICK, RI — A puddle created by a septic system backup today at Warwick Veterans Jr. High School has been cleaned will not disrupt a dance scheduled tonight at the school, said Supt. Phil Thornton, though fixing the issue that caused it, tying the back half of the school into the city’s sewers and building a pumping station, may cost an estimated $250,000.

The school is one of a handful of school buildings that have not yet been tied into the city’s sewer system, Thornton said.

The other school buildings not yet tied into the city’s sewer system are Warwick Neck, Gorton, and Greene, which is half school administration/half West Bay.

Thornton said the septic system had not been operating normally for the past few weeks. “They had to pump it twice the past couple weeks and that’s not the norm,” Thornton said.

Today, Thornton said a janitor found a puddle of sewage from the septic system in an Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy Room. The room is used for physical therapy sessions for the school’s medically fragile students, said Warwick Veterans Principal Dave Tober. No students were using the room or in the room at the time, he said.

The school followed a cleaning protocol, including wet-vacuuming and then treating the area with multiple-spectrum disinfectants, which kills all bacteria, Thornton said.

Councilman Ed Ladouceur was skeptical that the room has been adequately cleaned. “Sewage is bacteria. Bacteria gets inside these tiles,” he said.

Today at 1 p.m., the school department’s septic vendor, Diffley Septic, pumped out the system. On Monday, the company will use high pressure water through the system, “And that will rule out a clog,” Thornton said.

Since the building is half-tied into the city’s sewers, the original estimate to tie in the rest of the building may not be as high as anticipated, Thornton said.

Thornton said an $85 million bond referendum the School Department hopes to add to the Nov. 2017 ballot does not include tying the back half of Vets to the city sewers. Maybe something on the referendum can be replaced by the new repair, Thornton said.

Thornton noted the $85 million is only a fraction of the $196 million in repairs the RI Department of Education recommended for the districts schools. He said deferred maintenance on the buildings predating his time as superintendent has left many such issues lurking in wait. Thornton said the most worrisome needed repairs at the schools included outdated electrical wiring throughout the district, and aging roofs. Thornton Vets Septic


Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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