Repair of Springs School Septic

Concerns that the Springs School might reach opening day without a usable septic system were put to rest at a Springs School Board work session on Monday. Debra Winter, the school superintendent, announced that the 12 leaching pools recently unearthed by an excavating company, Laser, would be repaired, restored, raised, and fully operational before school reopens on Sept. 5.

The work, which includes replacing pumps that cannot be repaired, will provide the school with a functioning system that might last until 2019, she said, by which time an expansion project is expected to be underway and at which point it is hoped a new, state-of-the art nitrogen-reducing system will go in

The approximate cost of the work to be done now is $102,000, falling well under the $130,000 limit for a contingency expense in the annual budget, according to the school’s attorney.

It remains indisputable that the current system is outdated and potentially hazardous for neighboring bodies of water. 

“It wasn’t that our current system was inadequate,” Ms. Winter said. “It was that several of the pools weren’t leaching properly.” The system dates to the 1970s when the student population was around 300. The school now accommodates approximately 900 students, teachers, and staff.

In addition to the pools that weren’t leaching properly, some pools that had once been functional were buried and inaccessible, Ms. Winter said, causing a strain on the few that remained usable. The situation lead to a complete septic shutdown in April, and the district has had to have the pools pumped every 10 days since then.

Christopher Weiss of H2M Architects and Engineers attended Monday’s meeting and presented four innovative, low-nitrogen wastewater treatment plans for the school board to consider when the expansion begins. All four systems are Suffolk County-approved and available immediately, he said. On a Suffolk County map, which identifies areas where technologically advanced, eco-friendly systems are most necessary, Springs is listed as a “High Priority (Priority 1) Area.” Almost the entire coastline of eastern Long Island, and properties near the bays and Long Island Sound are also identified as top priority areas.

Given that Springs is classified as a Priority 1 Area, explained Mr. Weiss, the school will be near the top of a list of potential recipients of grants or other funds, which would help offset the approximate $600,000 cost of a new system.

Despite H2M’s recommendation that 22 leaching pools should be installed in the future, “based on the flow capacity,” Mr. Weiss echoed Ms. Winter’s statement that even though the current system has only 12 pools, it will require no more than standard, twice-a-year pumping because it has been brought up to grade. It is now expected to function without major problems until a state-of-the-art replacement can be installed.

In other matters discussed at the meeting, the Springs School’s Emergency Response Plan for 2017-18 has now been posted on the school’s website, where it will remain for 30 days for anyone wishing to comment or suggest changes.