Whether you want to call it a large puddle or small pond, seeping sewage on the grounds of Cedar Grove Elementary (CLICK HERE for map) has forced officials to expedite the installation of a sewer line.
Lucian Lawson, of Sullivan County's solid waste department, met Kingsport engineers at the school Thursday morning. Lawson said the school had hoped to be included in an upcoming construction project, bringing Kingsport sewer service to the area surrounding nearby Vermont and Brooklawn Drive. But malfunctioning field beds in the school's septic system -- installed two years ago -- have forced action sooner.
"We were going to tie in (the school) on that construction project and let that contractor do it, but this problem has come up before we got it bid out so we're going to have to go ahead and get it done," Lawson said. "It might be July before we get the other job bid out, and we can't wait that long. It has to be done before then."
The seeping sewage is located in the back of the school, in a grassy area that breaks up a parking lot. The parking lot is beside athletic fields used for youth league baseball and softball.
Parents of both students and athletes alerted timesnews.net to the problem, saying it had gotten progressively worse in the past months.
Lawson said he was not aware of the problem until Wednesday, the same day timesnews.net began calling school and county officials about the issue. Timesnews.net also contacted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which sent representatives to the school Thursday morning. TDEC Spokeswoman Tisha Calabrese-Benton said that since county maintenance crews are now lengthening the field bed as a temporary fix, there is no need for action from the agency.
"They're actively working on it, so we're good," she said.
Sullivan County Department of Education Director, Glenn Arwood, said the county has tried to get sewer service to the school for years. Now he hopes swift cooperation between the county and city of Kingsport will put the issue to rest.
"The city of Kingsport has a sewer line within 150 feet of the school, and we've been working with them the past two years trying to get it run to where we could put a tap and tie the school into it," said Joe Mike Akard, Sullivan County School System maintenance director.
Kingsport began incrementally expanding sewer service into the Bloomingdale community in 2003. Lawson said the city has a sewer line at the corner of Yokley Street and Coley Street, just across the road from Cedar Grove school grounds.
"What we're going to try and do is get the city to bring it across the road as far as we can," he said.
Lawson could not set a time table for when the school would be connected to the city sewer line, as city engineers are now drawing up plans. He said it could be a week or a month, but regardless, work will be completed by the beginning of the school year this fall.
"It has to come up under a road and about 150 feet to where we can tap on," Lawson said. "Hopefully the city of Kingsport will get that run for us so we can tie onto it in the near future."