That Doesn’t Smell Like Teen Spirit

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By Alex Kopish, Editor in Chief

Lately, it’s not unusual to see students and staff covering their noses as they make their way from one class to the next.

Throughout several WBHS hallways, the stench of sewage gas has stuck around for months. Tests were conducted by the high school’s maintenance team during the Feb. 16 teacher in-service day to attempt to find the source of the problem.

The stench has been unavoidable in several classrooms and has interrupted class. “It is really disturbing,” West senior Morgan Petrin said. “It makes me want to puke.”

The maintenance team sent smoke throughout sewage pipes in the high school in order to find the spots where water was leaking.

“Finally, the smoke missions conducted by our Maintenance Team did successfully identify three areas in need of repair in our plumbing vent system,” Principal Bill Greymont said in an email sent to high school staff. “This should help reduce the smell problem in the building.”

“If you have a drain that gets dry, because the inside of the buildings are extremely dry this time of year, the water drains out so then the fumes from underneath the septic comes out from the vent pipes,” Dave Hamilton, a member of the maintenance team, said in an interview with The Current.

Greymont sent an email out regarding the steps the maintenance team took to ensure safety. The team tested the air for the presence of methane and none was found. The county health inspector was notified about the situation and was pleased with the maintenance team’s work to correct the problem. Lastly, the West Bend Fire Department was also informed and will assist the team in monitoring the air quality.

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Matt Hoffmann, East social studies teacher, got a tangy taste of sewage stench.

The smell is noticeable periodically throughout the day and in different areas throughout the building.  “It smells like sewage,” West English teacher Kristen Becker said. “When I went over to East, [the stench] was still rather strong.”

“If we can find the right traps, we can put water in all of them,” Hamilton said about finding a solution to the stench. Hamilton explained that the problem can worsen on cold days, hot days, or days with a down draft wind.

“It happens more after lunch,” Hamilton said. “That is when all the water is being used in the system in the school, so the flow is going faster and faster to the sewer system.”

Greymont said in an email that it is significant to fix the issue to make the best working conditions possible for students and staff.

“The Maintenance team is working hard to check all traps and vents in the building to determine the source of the smells each day,” Greymont said in an email to the staff. “If it works we are golden. If it does not we will be discussing next steps to fix the issue to insure our students and ourselves are working in the best environment possible.”

(Top image: West English teacher Megan Coultas shields herself against foul vapors.  Photographs by Austin Aliota, special for The Current.)

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