Remember When School was Closed for that Water Main Break?

Here’s what happened


Photo from bcomber archives by Bradford Douglas

To the delight of students, school was canceled midway through the day on Thursday, Oct. 6.

At 12:15 pm, the district sent an email to the community explaining the situation.

“Due to a water main break affecting BHS, we need to shut down the water supply in order for repairs to be completed,” the email stated.

Students and staff members had noticed issues with the toilets and the water fountains earlier that day. 

“The day of the water main break, I had anatomy during 1st period and we had a lab to test out the temperature of different temperatures of water,” sophomore Anah Khan said. “When we filled a beaker up with tap water, we noticed it was a yellowish murky tint.” 

School officials report that the discolored water was caused by dirt and corrosion from the damaged pipe.

Due to the age [of the pipe] and environment [of where] the equipment is located (underground) bolts on a valve failed, causing the leak.

— Director of Buildings and Grounds Brian Koss

Brain Koss, Director of Buildings and Grounds for the Beachwood City Schools, explained the cause of the break in an email.

“Due to the age [of the pipe] and environment [of where] the equipment is located (underground) bolts on a valve failed, causing the leak,” he wrote.

Many students noticed that the leak also caused flooding on Fairmount Blvd. right outside the high school entrance.

Koss explained how the water pipes are maintained. 

“The infrastructure is inspected periodically and monitored through the water company,” he wrote. “When small leaks are discovered, they are addressed during non-school days or off hours. Large failures like these are unfortunate when they occur and cannot be predicted.”

Koss does not believe that the leak caused any lasting damage to the school’s infrastructure, but explained that there was need for additional maintenance such as flushing the water in the building, cleaning aerators and changing diaphragms in toilets and urinals. 

The problem came to Koss’s attention on the morning of Oct. 6, and after he informed  Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis of the extent of the problem, Hardis made the decision to cancel school.

Principal Paul Chase explained the decision-making process.

 “Mr. Koss as director of operations is the one that gives advice, and the superintendent makes the decision,” he said.

Chase described the immediate actions that were taken by the district to maintain communication with staff and families.

“We put systems in place where we make sure when the announcement will be made to students and when it will be made to parents,” he said. “We make sure the buses are arranged, make sure transportation is on time, what time we are shutting the building down, and make sure that everyone gets home safely.” 

The cost for the licensed plumber was just under $3,000. The water company also monitors the repairs.

— Brian Koss

The district hired a contractor to fix the leak.

“The cost for the licensed plumber was just under $3,000,” Koss wrote. “The water company also monitors the repairs.”

Koss wants students to know that the water in the building is safe. 

“Inconveniences like these occur and the majority of the time can be resolved without notice,” he wrote.

“We have a beautiful building here… and I think we do a pretty good job overall,” Chase said.