The girls of St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point got an unexpected three-day break from class this week when they learned their school was forced to close after a water service pipe broke.
The school, which closed Monday before class would have begun and expects to reopen Friday, was ordered by the city Department of Environmental Protection to repair the damage to city pipes within 10 days, according to City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).
The service pipe, which connects the all-female Catholic school’s plumbing system to a water main along 124th Street, was reported broken to the city at about 6:30 a.m. Monday, according to a city Department of Environmental Protection worker at the scene that afternoon.
An employee of the school, located at 13-20 124th St., contacted the city after finding water pouring into the basement, according to another DEP worker. Halloran said the water flooded the school’s cafeteria.
A statement on the school’s website Tuesday explained the closure.
“Due to the water main break and necessary cleanup, school will be closed on Tuesday, 11/9, and Wednesday 11/10. (School is also closed for the Veteran’s Day observance on Thursday, 11/11.),” the statement said. “All students are to report to school on Friday morning, 11/12/10, for regular classes.”
A St. Agnes administrator at the school Monday afternoon declined to comment on the situation.
Several DEP workers had cut a wide, rectangular hole in the pavement in front of the school’s entrance at 13-20 124th St. by 11 a.m. Monday, and one of them was working to close the valve that connected the service to the main, according to another worker.
The Fire Department shut off initial curb valves earlier that morning, and a DEP truck, a number of FDNY vehicles and a bulldozer were on the scene that afternoon.
A DEP worker said the onus was on the school to address its connections to the city’s lines and any problems within the building, while the city would take care of any problems with city pipes.
“[The school can reopen] as fast as they can get a plumber out here to fix it,” he predicted. “Could be today, could be tomorrow.”
Halloran said the break affected buildings and homes throughout the surrounding area. Con Edison shut electrical power off for a short time and tap water was discolored for much of Monday, he and nearby residents said.
Isabella Kadir, a resident of nearby 125th Street, said her water had been affected Monday morning.
“I went to make my tea this morning and the water’s light brown. It still is,” she said. “It’s horrible.”
Another nearby resident said his water was back to normal Monday afternoon. Halloran said the discoloration was mostly from iron oxide and rust and that it is most likely not harmful, but he still advised caution with tap water.
“I would always err on the side of caution,” he said. “Run the water until it’s clear, but if it doesn’t run clear, I would say stick with bottled water.”
Halloran also encouraged area residents to keep close watch in coming days on any existing minor pipe leaks they are aware of in their homes as they can be exacerbated by the changes in pressure caused by the break.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2010 Community News Group
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