The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 25, 2006


DEP orders Carlisle School to maintain water pressure

The school may soon add monitoring controls to its water system to trigger an alarm when water pressure drops, or water in the storage tanks drops below a certain level.

The new controls are in response to a state Department of Environmental Protection inspection of the school's water supply in June when the DEP learned the school sometimes runs out of water in its 3,000-gallon storage system. A running toilet, undiscovered, can cause the system to drain over a period of time. It has not previously been an issue with the state because the school is not a residence and it has not required an alarm before, said David Flannery, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds.

The DEP checked its regulations and told the school that it must maintain 20 pounds of pressure in the water system at all times to prevent backflow from possibly occurring.

The DEP sent the school a notice of non-compliance this month and the school must reply with a plan by September 22. Flannery and other administrative staff met with Provencher Engineering of New Hampshire and Skillings and Sons well company on Tuesday to come up with a plan to install monitoring controls in response to the state regulation. If an alarm is triggered, a call would go to Lexington Alarm, the company that now handles all the school facility alarms, and the school would be called. The school plans to send a proposal to the DEP that outlines two new monitoring alarms.

The DEP inspects the school's water system every five years in a physical site inspection and it monitors all water testing records. The school does its own monthly, quarterly, and annual testing of water quality. The state found no issues with the school's water quality, says Flannery, who says the well water's quality is "outstanding."

Other systems at the school

The school is also looking into making changes to the existing water storage tank system by adjusting floats in the tanks, and adjusting the inlet and outlet, changes that could give the storage system more capacity. The adjustments are less expensive than replacing the holding tanks with a larger, 4,000-gallon system, says Flannery. A replacement tank system is estimated to cost around $10,000, and would be a capital expenditure for the school.

The cafeteria dishwasher may need replacement as it is now 20 years old. Facilities plans to evaluate whether to replace the unit through a capital request this fiscal year.

The new boiler heating system is expected to go out for bid the last week of August. The school just received engineering specifications on the system this week from Norian Engineers of Waltham, after a delay. Flannery, and Heidi Zimmerman, the new school Business Manager, reviewed the specs this week.

The new heating system is expected to be complete in mid-November, if all goes as planned. The school now has one working boiler that can carry the heating load for the school through all but the coldest winter weather, while one boiler is disabled. Norian designed a system that replaces the current system with one high-efficiency boiler and one conventional hot water boiler that is expected to significantly reduce energy costs.

Summer and fall maintenance

Throughout the hot summer days, industrial strength humidifiers and fans running in the Spalding and Robbins Buildings removed humidity, preventing the mold that appeared in Spalding three summers ago. Though the humidifiers were expensive and they need to be checked often to see they are operating properly, they are stopping mold growth in the summer, says Flannery.

Termite bait traps placed underground around Spalding had evidence of termites, but so far there have been no termites found inside the building.

This fall a new layer of engineered wood chips, called Fibar, will be added underneath the Castle playground equipment to give students a safe landing when they play on the structure. Fibar is engineered to have no sharp edges and it is has been used by the school for several years. Like all wood chips, it compacts over time and a new 3-inch layer will be spread.

Capital improvements

Most of the capital improvement expenditures approved by voters at the spring Town Meeting were added to the school over the summer break. Extensive roof repairs were done on the Corey Building along with repairs to the roof over the school library. Bricks on the front of Corey were treated with waterproofing to prevent the water leaks that occurred last October during a Nor'easter storm. Decaying columns outside windows in the cafeteria were replaced with a new PVC board material, and new energy-efficient lights were installed in the Corey auditorium stage area so that some classes held there can use the lights instead of stage spotlights.

New science tables were added to two middle school science classrooms to replace worn-out ones, and new student lockers were added in three middle school classrooms to replace 30 year-old lockers. The elementary art room has new tables and chairs to replace older high stools and benches.

Finally, the school is considering adding stainless steel safety railings to sloping areas on campus before the winter months, another capital project approved by voters for the school.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito