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Friday, January 7, 2011

Burst Pipes Bring Water Damage To School In New Mexico

FARMINGTON — Cold temperatures have caused pipe-related problems in several San Juan County

But a little pre-emptive heating helped some of the local schools prevent the serious water damage other New Mexico schools recently reported.

By Thursday afternoon, six Farmington schools had reported water damage because of water pipe bursts. None of the schools suffered enough damage to prompt an insurance claim, said James Barfoot, the assistant superintendent of operations for Farmington schools.

In Aztec, two pipes burst and caused slight water damage at Koogler Middle School, a pipe burst in a
bathroom at Lydia Rippey Elementary and at the high school, a broken heater caused a frozen pipe to
burst over the weekend.

"Obviously when you have a break you have some damage, but there hasn't been anything catastrophic," Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said. "We didn't have to delay school or delay
utilizing any parts of the school."

All of the burst pipes were inside northern walls in the oldest sections of the schools, Carpenter said.

Damage was more extensive at other New Mexico schools. Pipe bursts and water damage brought on
by freezing temperatures caused about $500,000 in damages at 43 schools in the Albuquerque school
district. Four Albuquerque schools were delayed this week because of those pipe bursts.

The only damage that affected school curriculum in Farmington was at Country Club Elementary. A heating coil filled with water burst over the weekend.

The library was closed until the room was repaired and reheated Thursday afternoon, said Steve Vollmert, the supervisor of plant operations for the district.

The heating coil cost the district $1,100 to replace, he said.

Piedra Vista, Farmington and Rocinante high schools, along with the Tibbetts greenhouse, Hermosa Middle School, Country Club and the automotive shop at the CATE Center also had burst pipes, Vollmert said.

In the Central Consolidated School District, a heating coil burst near the band room at Kirtland Middle School, which closed the room for two days, and a pipe burst caused minimal damage in a portable classroom at Ruth N. Bond Elementary School.

Local schools were able to keep bursting pipes in check by heating unoccupied schools over night
and during weekends, Carpenter and Vollmert said.

"If it the (outside temperature) gets 20 degrees or below I crank the heat up in anticipation of it getting
cold to protect the school," Vollmert said. "The taxpayer loses a lot of money when you shut a
school down. In my opinion it's better to spend more money on gas and heat and protect the school."

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