Water issues at Amargosa school following spring break

Faculty and students at the Amargosa Elementary School returned from spring break Monday to portions of the building without running water, including the cafeteria.

Nye County School District Maintenance Supervisor Cameron McRae said during Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting the cause of problem had yet to be determined, after consulting with a well drilling company Monday.

“We had the Great Basin well company there for most of the day,” he said. “We resolved some issues on our well and our pump, but the problem we had was somewhere in the distribution system.”

By Wednesday, Principal Robert Williams said although crews seemed to have fixed the problem, he took a cautious approach on the matter.

“It’s under control, but we’re leaving all of our porta-potties in place just in case something happens over the next couple of days,” he said. “Nobody went without any meals and we all had bathrooms available.”

Williams said he noticed the school was experiencing water pressure problems first thing on Monday in some parts of the campus, while other areas appeared to have no problems with water pressure.

“We didn’t lose pressure in our modular buildings,” he said. “We were able to use those for restrooms, as the maintenance department tried to work through the problem. It was kind of ideal because that’s where we have pre-k, kindergarten and first grade.”

The principal noted that both students and staff at the school seemed to have taken everything pretty well.

“The staff worked together to make sure the kids were okay,” he said. “When we realized that this was a serious problem just before lunch time when we lost all of our water pressure in one building, we had the community center right next door. It was easier to take the fourth graders to the community center to take turns using the restroom, then return to class. It’s just a five-minute walk.”

Williams also said he’s grateful the community of Amargosa Valley pulled together for the first two days of the week in spite of the dilemma.

“The town manager volunteered to let us use their backhoe if we had to dig up pipes if necessary,” he said. “Our biggest concern was we didn’t have water in the kitchen, so we switched on the fly to go with dry meals. We had yogurt and cereal with milk for breakfast and packaged sandwiches for lunch.”

As far as any possible health violations, McRae said he was in contact with health officials about the situation.

“We had a meeting with the health department over concessions and she told us that we were doing all the right things,” he said. “We didn’t have to close the school because we can do other things. She said if she received a call about the school being without water, she will be able to tell people that we are doing the right things in the absence of having running water in portions of the campus. It’s unfortunate it was the cafeteria.”

At present, there are 179 students attending early childhood, pre-K, elementary and middle school classes at the site.

Williams said district officials are now looking for a definitive cause for the loss of water at the school.

“We are pretty sure it had something to do with one of the valves connected to the tank,” he said. “That has been replaced and the water has worked since then. They were also checking the various valves throughout the campus to see if there are any other potential problems.”

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